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County Solutions and Innovation Blog​​
Shasta County, Calif. Hosts Second NACo County Prosperity Summit

By Jen Horton, Program Manager

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During the Shasta County Prosperity Summit, local and regional leaders worked on visioning and brainstorming exercises to strengthen the region's high-tech sector.

The second NACo County Prosperity Summit was held on May 12 in Shasta County, Calif. At this event, 45 county and community leaders convened in the city of Redding to brainstorm creative ways to advance economic growth in the county’s growing high-tech and green energy sectors. 

Selected through a competitive application process, Shasta County was chosen to host the summit because of local leaders’ dedication to equitable development that benefits all of its residents – including traditionally marginalized and low-income populations.  Shasta County and its partners are also taking a comprehensive approach to economic development, focusing on broadband infrastructure, educational attainment and poverty reduction as key strategies to generate new business and job opportunities while providing new career pathways and skill attainment programs to ready the county’s workforce. 

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A small group brainstorms the viability of new solar energy opportunities to take advantage of Shasta County’s abundance of sunny days.

The Shasta County Prosperity Summit was co-hosted by the Shasta County Health and Human Services Agency and the United Way of...

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9 days ago | 0

The Arts Mean Business

Written by Jay Dick, Senior Director of State and Local Government Affairs, Americans for the Arts
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If your county had a new construction company move to town, this would be good newsmore jobs, more economic activity, and more tax revenues to be collected. How about if your county received funding from your state to widen a road? Again, you would probably welcome this news with open arms. Now, think about a new arts organization moving to your county. Would you look at this group with the same economic lens that you used to look at the construction or transportation business? 

If your answer was no, here’s why you should!

The U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) with the National Endowment for the Arts recently released their second annual report measuring the arts and culture sector’s contributions to U.S. gross domestic product (GDP). This year’s report found that the arts and culture sector represented 4.32 percent of the GDP – a higher percentage than tourism (2.6 percent), transportation (2.7 percent) and construction (3.4 percent) – at $698.7 billion! 

In other words, the arts and culture sector have a larger impact on your economy (in terms of GDP) than these other industries. The unfortunate problem is that we don’t...

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10 days ago | 0

New NACo Report: Tracking County Energy Savings and Emissions Reductions

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The Blue Earth County Justice Center in Minnesota is a county-owned ENERGY STAR certified building.

This month, NACo released a new report, ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager: Tracking County Energy Savings and Emissions Reductions.  The report explores how NACo is helping 97 counties track energy and water consumption for more than 2,079 county-owned buildings using the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager.  It also highlights the benefits counties have seen using the tool, including reduced greenhouse gas emissions and energy usage.

The ENERGY STAR program is a free suite of products from the EPA that since 1992 has helped reduce energy and water demands in residential and commercial buildings.  Each year, the program saves more than $9 billion in energy costs, and prevents nearly 135 million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions.  County-owned buildings of all sizes and ages including court houses, office buildings fire stations can benefit from using ENERGY STAR tools. 

The Portfolio Manager tool is a free online tool that enables counties to track their energy and water consumption as well as greenhouse gas emissions.  By setting benchmarks, counties can compare ...

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11 days ago | 0

EDA Announces Up To $35 Million Available for Implementation Grants to Assist Communities in Coal-Impacted Places

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The U.S. Commerce Department’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) has announced that up to $35.5 million in funding is now available through the Partnership for Opportunity and Workforce and Economic Revitalization (POWER) initiative. POWER, which was announced at the end of March, is an EDA-led, coordinated effort among multiple federal agencies using existing resources to provide integrated and coordinated investments in communities and workers negatively impacted by changes in the coal industry and power sector.

This new funding opportunity leverages funding from EDA, the Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration (ETA), the Small Business Administration (SBA), and the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC).  Funding from these programs has been aligned in this FFO to take a comprehensive approach towards economic diversification and worker advancement in implementing economic development strategic plans in impacted coal communities. These grants will enable grantees to build economic resilience, industry diversification, and promote new job creation opportunities. 

The application deadline for EDA and ARC funding is July 10, 2015, and applications for ETA funding will be accepted on a rolling basis.  Proposals for SBA’s Regional Innovation Clusters Program contract solicitation will be accepted on a rolling basis after June 1st, 2015.  For more information, visit: http://www.eda.gov/power/

In addition to the POWER initiative, EDA is collaborating with the National...

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11 days ago | 0

Porter County Airport Helps Regional Economic Development Take Off

Written by Rob Pressly and Alix Kashdan​

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Porter County Regional Airport. Source: Porter County Airport Authority.

County governments play a critical role in building and maintaining infrastructure projects that foster economic growth across America.  Under the leadership of NACo President Riki Hokama (Council Member, Maui County, Hawaii), NACo’s Transportation and Infrastructure Initiative is exploring the county role in promoting investments that support economic competitiveness, improve passenger travel, foster creative partnerships, ensure safety and enhance community quality of life.  This spring, NACo is releasing a blog post series demonstrating how counties invest in airports and related infrastructure to achieve local and regional economic goals.  These projects include expanding runways, increasing access to airports through roadway improvements and enhancing local business opportunities at airports.  This post is the third in this series.

Porter County, Ind. has a population of around 166,600 and is located about 50 miles southeast of Chicago.  The Porter County Regional Airport, built in 1949, serves as an important corporate airport for the Midwest region.  The airport is managed by the Porter County Airport Authority Board; the four board members are appointed by Porter County’s commissioners, and according to Indiana law, are two Republicans and two Democrats.  The authority is able to generate 60 perce...

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3 weeks ago | 0

Titus County, Texas hosts first NACo Prosperity Summit

Written By: Jen Horton, NACo Program Manager 

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During the Titus County Prosperity Summit, local and regional leaders worked on visioning and brainstorming exercises to bolster their regional food system. 

On April 8, Titus County – located in the heart of northeast Texas with approximately 32,000 residents – convened over 40 local leaders to host a NACo County Prosperity Summit.  The goal of the day-long summit was to strengthen the county and region’s sustainable agriculture sector by connecting the region’s assets to market demand in creative ways that build rooted wealth for local people, places and firms.  Selected through a competitive application process, Titus County was chosen to host the summit because of local leaders’ interest in a regional approach to economic development and improving quality of life in the region.  Specifically, Titus County identified an opportunity to create more agriculture-based jobs and increase residents’ access to healthy and local food. 

The Titus County Prosperity Summit was the first of five summits that NACo is convening in 2015.  With support from the Ford Foundation, these summits aim to convene local leaders to strengthen regional relationships and identify ways to deepen and sust​ain economic development activities.  

One of the most important outcomes of the Titus County Prosperity Summit was getting local and regi...

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3 weeks ago | 0

Attend Rooting Opportunity: Doing Economic Development Differently | June 1-2 in Washington, D.C.

By Jen Horton, NACo Program Manager

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Are you interested in advancing regional prosperity and self-reliance by strengthening key sectors, businesses and the livelihoods of low-income people, places and firms in your counties?  Consider attending Rooting Opportunity: Doing Economic Development Differently on June 1-2 in Washington, D.C.  During this two-day gathering, innovative leaders in economic development will share their strategies for building enduring economies, vibrant communities and stronger regions.  Through this exchange, practitioners and local leaders will walk away with:

  • Knowledge that there are ways of doing economic development that improve economies; help low-income people, places and firms get ahead; and maintain or grow the stock of multiple regional assets that provide the base for a more prosperous future.
  • Examples of how people are doing this work now, with results, and ways that these practices can be applied to their own challenges and places.
  • Action ideas to “take home and start doing today.”
  • Connections to peers who can be a source of support and assistance for doing economic development differently. 

Attendees will hear from economic development specialists in housing, tourism, manufacturing, healthcare, food, energy and agriculture, among others. 

Rooting Opportunity is being organized by the Aspen Institute Community Strategies Group, in coordination with NACo.

Scholarships are available!  To review the scholarship guidelines and complet...

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3 weeks ago | 0

Counties and Regions Talk Economic Diversification in Kentucky

By Kathy Nothstine, NACo Program Director

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The Harlan County, Ky., team strategizes economic revitalization.

Last week, a group of county and regional leaders convened in Pike County, Ky., bound by a common interest in finding new ways to grow their economies.  Based in communities that have long been reliant on the coal industry, these leaders came together to share ideas and learn about innovative strategies to create jobs and improve quality of life through changing economic times.

NACo hosted this workshop in Pikeville from April 22 – 24 in partnership with the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) and the National Association of Development Organizations (NADO) Research Foundation, as part of a larger effort to support communities seeking to diversify their economies and create jobs.  Known as the Innovation Challenge for Coal-Reliant Communities, this effort is centered on three workshops, the first of which was the Pikeville event. 

Since broad community collaboration is essential to addressing the complexities of economic development, counties and regions were asked to form teams comprising multi-sector stakeholders to compete to win a spot to attend the Pikeville workshop.  The winning teams brought together county and city officials and staff, regional economic development practitioners, workforce development professionals, representatives of school boards and higher education, and more....

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3 weeks ago | 0

NACo Unveils New Online Resource Portal for Transitioning Economies

Written by Kathy Nothstine, Program Director

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As NACo kicks off the first of three economic diversification workshops this year, we are pleased to unveil a new website stocked with tools, reports, case studies and other resources designed to support places looking for assistance on retooling their economies.

The Resources for Transitioning Economies website collects information from a variety of sources, including studies and examples from public, private and nonprofit organizations.  It is a free resource available to any county, community or region seeking to diversify and strengthen its local economy.  Featuring resources ranging from recent special reports, interactive tools and training opportunities, plus links to information about new funding sources, this site will continue to grow as new resources and funding programs become available.  Visit diversifyeconomies.org to access these resources. 

The site was developed by NACo and the National Association of Development Organizations (NADO) Research Foundation as part of the Innovation Challenge for Coal-Reliant Communities program, supported by the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA).  The centerpiece of this initiative is a series of three workshops to be held in 2015.  This resource portal is a companion to those workshops.  To learn more about the Innovation Challenge, visit www.naco.org/innovationchallenge.

Questions, comments or ideas on how to improve the site?  Contact Kathy Nothstine or Jen Hor...

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4 weeks ago | 0

Tri-County Region Plans Airport Upgrades to Boost Economic Activity

Written by Rob Pressly​, NACo Program Manager.​

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The Tri-County Airport supports both recreational flying and agricultural purposes including spraying and fertilizing crops.
(source: flickr user D. Miller)

County governments play a critical role in building and maintaining infrastructure projects that foster economic growth across America.  Under the leadership of NACo President Riki Hokama (Council Member, Maui County, Hawaii), NACo’s Transportation and Infrastructure Initiative is exploring the county role in promoting investments that support economic competitiveness, improve passenger travel, foster creative partnerships, ensure safety and enhance community quality of life.  This spring, NACo is releasing a blog post series demonstrating how counties invest in airports and related infrastructure to achieve local and regional economic goals.  These projects include expanding runways, increasing access to airports through roadway improvements and enhancing local business opportunities at airports.  This post is the second in this series.

Holmes, Jackson and Washington counties—located in northwestern Florida with a combined population of about 93,000—jointly own Tri-County Airport.  The airport is located in Holmes County near the city of Bonifay and is operated by the Tri-County Airport Authority, whose 15-member governing board is composed of five representatives from each of the three counties.  The 75-year-old, 300-acre airport has one 4,000-foot runwaywhich can accommodate multi-engine airplanes.  The airport supports activities varyi...

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5 weeks ago | 0

Gallatin County Airport Interchange Project to Drive Economic Growth

Written by Rob Pressly​, NACo Program Manager.

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Image​ Source: Montana Department of Transportation

County governments play a critical role in building and maintaining infrastructure projects that foster economic growth across America.  Under the leadership of NACo President Riki Hokama (Councilmember, Maui County, Hawaii), NACo’s Transportation and Infrastructure Initiative is exploring the county role in promoting investments that support economic competitiveness, improve passenger travel, foster creative partnerships, ensure safety and enhance community quality of life.  This spring, NACo is releasing a blog post series demonstrating how counties invest in airports and related infrastructure to achieve local and regional economic goals.  These projects include expanding runways, increasing access to airports through roadway improvements and enhancing local business opportunities at airports.  This post is the first in this blog series.

Gallatin County, Mont. has 97,308 residents and is home to the Bozeman Yellowstone International Airportlocated in Belgrade.  One of the state’s largest airports, it is the only one that operates year-round as a gateway for Yellowstone National Park, and also provides access to nearby Big Sky Resort, Montana State University and the business centers in Bozeman, Belgrade and Livingston.  Economic activity at the airport resulting from tourism and business operations is critical for supporting the county and local communities.  With nearly 3.5 million visitors per year, on any ...

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6 weeks ago | 0

Managing Integrity and Civility Leadership Series

Written by Shaunda Ragland​, Associate, Education and Training
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During the 2015 NACo Legislative Conference, Stu Brody, Founder of Integrity Intensive, served as the facilitator for the Integrity and Civility Management workshop. Workshop attendees were able to interactively examine the customary ways in which most people think of integrity and civility. The Integrity and Civility Management workshop served as a precursor for the upcoming Managing Integrity and Civility Leadership Series. 

This learning continuum will take place over the course of five webinars created to further examine and challenge the typical understanding most have about integrity and civility. The series will more broadly focus on the qualities of values-based leadership. Using a pedagogical approach, Mr. Brody will empower public leaders to accept and own integrity and civility as interdependent skills essential to values-based leadership.  These skills will be interactively analyzed throughout the Managing Integrity and Civility Leadership Series.  Participants will acquire a new perspective regarding the dynamics of decision-making and the qualities of leadership.  

The first webinar in the Managing Integrity and Civility Leadership Series will take place on Thursday, April 16th, 2:00 PM-3:15 PM EDT.  Click here to register!

Visit the 2015 NACo Legislative Conference Learning Center to view a recording of the Integrity and Civility Management workshop!  You will need your NAC...

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2 months ago | 0


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