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County Solutions and Innovation Blog​​
NACo Unveils New Online Resource Portal for Transitioning Economies New

Written by Kathy Nothstine, Program Director


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 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

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

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2 days ago | 0

Tri-County Region Plans Airport Upgrades to Boost Economic Activity

Written by Rob Pressly​, NACo Program Manager.​

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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9 days ago | 0

Gallatin County Airport Interchange Project to Drive Economic Growth

Written by Rob Pressly​, NACo Program Manager.

Gallatin County Interchange.jpg
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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2 weeks ago | 0

Managing Integrity and Civility Leadership Series

Written by Shaunda Ragland​, Associate, Education and Training
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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4 weeks ago | 0

Seven Teams Selected to Attend First Innovation Challenge Workshop in Pikeville, Ky.


NACo and the NADO Research Foundation, with support from the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA), are pleased to announce the seven teams selected to participate in the first round of the Innovation Challenge for Coal Reliant Communities.  These teams will participate in an economic diversification workshop and gain access to additional resources to support job creation, business growth and economic prosperity in counties and regions that are experiencing economic challenges due to the contraction of the coal industry. 

Led by counties and regional development organizations and including a broad range of other public and private sector partners, these teams participated in a competitive process earlier this year to win spots for the first workshop, to be held in Pikeville, Ky., in late April.

The winning teams are led by:

  • Big Sandy Area Development District, Ky.
    • ​Representing Ky. counties of Floyd, Johnson, Martin, Magoffin and Pike
  • ​Cumberland Valley Area Development District, Ky.
    • Representing Harlan County, Ky.
  • FIVCO Area Development District, Ky.
    • Representing Ky. counties of Boyd, Carter, Elliott, Greenup and Lawrence
  • LENOWISCO Planning District Commission, Va.
    • Representing Wise County, Va.
  • Moffat County, Colo.
  • Perry County, Ky.
  • Reconnecting McDowell, Inc., W.Va.
    • Representing McDowell County, W.Va.

For the complete list of team members, see

The seven interdisciplinary teams will attend a three-day training workshop in Pikeville and benefit from individual assistance before and after the event that will help them implem...

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4 weeks ago | 0

NACo Leadership Participates in French-American Forum on Local Governments and Sustainability

Written by Alix Kashdan, Senior Intern, Community and Economic Development

“Road to COP21” banner in the French Embassy.  Source: NACo.

On March 5 and 6, the Embassy of France hosted “Focus 2015: A Forum of Communities for Urban Sustainability” in Washington, D.C.  The two-day conference gathered local government representatives from across the United States and France to discuss and share stories of sustainability and resiliency.  Local governments will play an important role at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris in December 2015, and the Focus 2015 Forum established a dialogue between French and American municipal governments in preparation for the December conference.

The Forum provided educational and discussion opportunities through workshops, panels, roundtables and speakers.  Topics included transportation, land use, energy, water, resiliency, urban policy and finance for sustainability.  Linda Langston, NACo’s Immediate Past President and Supervisor from Linn County, Iowa, spoke in the forum’s Resiliency Workshops (presentation available here) and participated in a roundtable entitled “On the Road to Paris Climate Conference – Local Leaders Can Make the Difference." 

Supervisor Langston explained the role of counties in the United States, stressing the importance of local governments for maintaining critical infrastructure and adopting ordinances that impact the resiliency and sustainability of local communities. “It was great to be...

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5 weeks ago | 0

Four Counties Selected as Awardees in National Pay for Success Competition

​Written by Kathy Rowings, NACo Program Manager.


Third Sector Capital Partners, Inc. (Third Sector), a grantee of the Social Innovation Fund’s Pay for Success program, announced today the selection of seven awardees—four of which are counties—to receive federally funded technical assistance to assess the feasibility of implementing Pay for Success (PFS). Awardees (referred to as “Sub-Recipients”) have demonstrated commitment to funding high-quality, effective social interventions that produce measurable outcomes in the areas of early childhood education and health, child welfare, teen pregnancy and workforce development. The four county Sub-Recipients are:

Travis County/Austin, Texas, with leadership from the Austin/Travis County Health and Human Services Department, will focus on determining the feasibility of PFS for reducing teen pregnancies among Hispanic youth and improving birth outcomes among African Americans.

Orange County, Calif., and Bridges Network, with leadership from the Children and Families Commission of Orange County and Bridges Maternal Child Health Network, will build on previous PFS feasibility work to improve maternal and child health through early childhood universal screening and home visiting programs.

Clark County, Nev., in partnership with the state of Nevada and the city of Las Vegas, will focus on improving school readiness and academic performance for disadvantaged children through PFS supported early childhood...

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6 weeks ago | 0

Applications Open for the NACo County Health Learning Challenge!


In partnership with the County Health Rankings & Roadmaps program, NACo presents an opportunity for up to three county teams to participate in the County Health Learning Challenge. Using the Roadmaps to Health Take Action Cycle, this year-long collaborative challenge is intended to help the selected County Health Learning teams develop and strengthen cross-sector partnerships, select potential policy, systems and environmental changes to improve county health and put ideas into action to build a Culture of Health in their counties.


Who is Eligible?

  • The County Health Learning Challenge is open to all NACo member counties.  All applications should include:
  • A county elected official lead applicant
  • Teams that include multiple sectors, both public and private, as identified in the Roadmaps to Health Take Action Cycle
  • Focus area(s) that align with the County Health Rankings model, and
  • Goals and strategies that reflect progress that can be reasonably attained over a year.

Why Should You Apply?

Selected County Health Learning teams will be presented with a number of unique opportunities to make progress towards building a Culture of Health, learn from peer County Health Learning teams and share their efforts with the NACo membership. These opportunities include:

  • Roadmaps to Health Community Coaching, provided through the County Health Rankings & Roadmaps program, will offer tools and guidance to support the work of each team
  • Participation in a collaborative with selected peer County Health Learning teams
  • Up to two tra...
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7 weeks ago | 0

NACo Releases New Waste Energy Recovery Issue Brief

Written by Rob Pressly​, NACo Program Manager.​

NACo recently released a new issue brief, Waste Energy Recovery: Renewable Energy from County Landfills.  This new report serves as a guide for county leaders to better understand the process of recovering energy from waste, and provides resources to help counties develop and finance energy-from-waste projects.

Each year, Americans collectively generate about 251 million tons of waste.  Nearly half of this waste is recycled or composted, but that still leaves about 135 tons of waste that get sent to landfills in counties throughout the U.S.  This can pose a number of issues for counties, including:

  • Costs associated with creating new landfills;

  • Costs associated with transporting waste across county or state lines when local landfills retire; and

  • Decreased air quality from methane and carbon dioxide emissions at landfills.

To avoid these issues, counties across the country have turned to alternative methods of handling municipal solid waste.  Two such methods include landfill gas-to-energy (LFGTE) and waste-to-energy (WTE).  LFGTE and WTE projects can provide counties with a number of financial and environmental benefits. Some of them include:

  • Generating new revenue: Counties can sell electricity generated on-site to local utilities or sell compressed natural gas collected to users to generate reliable sources of revenue.

  • Creating new jobs: Construction and maintenance of WTE and LFGTE facilities provide opportunities for temporary and permanent jobs.  On average, a 1,500-tons per day WTE facility leads to 248 direct jobs and 52 indirect jobs during the construction phase.  Once in operation, an average of 59 new direct jobs is created to operate and maintain the facility.

  • Increasing recycling ra...

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2 months ago | 0

Pipeline safety grant opportunity and new resources for counties

Written by Jen Horton, NACo Program Manager.
ew Technical Assistance Grants (TAG) Opportunity!
The U.S. Department of Transportation, Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) is now accepting applications for the 2015 Technical Assistance Grants (TAG) for communities or impacted stakeholders seeking engineering, or other scientific analysis of issues relating to pipeline infrastructure.  Governmental entities or non-profit groups may qualify for a grant of up to $100,000 per year.  Applicants must be local communities or groups of individuals relating to the safety of pipeline facilities in local communities.  ‘Communities’ are defined as cities, towns, villages, counties, parishes, townships, and similar governmental subdivisions or consortia of such subdivisions.  For-profit entities are not eligible. 

  • The announcement can be found by using the “SEARCH GRANTS” tab at

    • Search by Funding Opportunity Number DTPH5615SN0002

  • The closing date for applications is April 22, 2015. 

  • For more information, or to apply for a grant, please contact Karen Lynch at

Additional Pipeline Safety Resources
The Pipelines and Informed Planning Alliance (PIPA) initiative– made up of stakeholders from all levels of government and representatives of pipeline and building industries – focuses on issues related to the potential impact of land use, and development around transmission pipelines.   Since forming in 2008, PIPA representatives have worked to address the protection of pipelines when considering or planning for development near a pipeline right-of-way.  The result was recommended practices to safeguard com...

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2 months ago | 0

​Painting the Town: Arts Partnerships Lead to Economic Victories in Clayton County, Ga.

By Alix Kashdan​, Senior Intern, Community and Economic Development

NACo is dedicated to supporting county leaders seeking to develop and implement creative strategies that foster economic growth.  This is the first post in a two-part blog series highlighting successful arts-based economic development projects.

Arts Clayton Gallery. Source: Arts Clayton.

Clayton County, Ga. has a population of 264,220 and is located just south of Atlanta.  One of the county’s priorities is investing in the arts, which has proved to be a fruitful investment.  Some of the county’s recent successes, which integrate support for the arts with economic development goals, include a partnership for historic preservation and an innovative education and workforce training program.

Clayton County’s historic preservation work emerged from the marked population changes the region has seen in recent years: Since the early 2000s, the county has experienced population growth due to rapid outward expansion from Atlanta’s urban core.  The influx of residents, needing new places to live, began to threaten culturally important historic centers like the Jonesboro Historic District, found in the county seat of in Jonesboro and listed on the National Register of Historic Places (and known by many as the setting of Gone with the Wind).  The county’s historic centers are home to a number of important ...

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2 months ago | 0

(NACo Podcasts) Optimizing Health, Justice & Public Safety in Your County


This past January, NACo held a joint Healthy Counties Initiative and Justice and Public Safety forum in Charleston S.C. This video podcast takes a look at two of the issues discussed during the forum: addressing racial and ethnic disparities in the justice system, and the intersection of behavioral health and justice systems.

During the podcast, we hear from Commissioner Joan Garner and Commissioner Katie “Kay” Cashion, respective chairs of the NACo Healthy Counties Initiative Advisory Board and NACo Justice and Public Safety Steering Committee, as well as James Bell, founder and executive director of the W. Haywood Burns Institute, and Judge Steve Leifman of the Miami-Dade County Court Criminal Division.

Subscribing to NACo Podcasts is simple.  If you are using an Apple device, while on your device, click the "Subscribe Via iTunes" button below.  Once subscribed, new episdoes will be automatically pushed to your device.  For other devices, subscribe via RSS, or download today's episode directly to your device.  Click here for a full listing of NACo Podcasts episodes.


This podcast features information and data presented at during the NACo Healthy Counties Initiative and Justice and Public Safety forum, including statistics presented by James Bell and Judge Leifman during their sessions. 

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2 months ago | 0