In order to remain healthy, vibrant, safe and economically competitive, America’s counties must be able to anticipate and adapt to all types of change.  Through the Resilient Counties initiative, NACo works with counties and their stakeholders to bolster their ability to thrive amid changing physical, environmental, social and economic conditions.

Hurricanes, wildfires, economic collapse, and other disasters can be natural or man-made, acute or long-term, foreseeable or unpredictable.  Preparation for and recovery from such events requires both long-term planning and immediate action.  

NACo works to strengthen county resiliency by building leadership capacity to identify and manage risk, and allow counties to become more flexible and responsive.  Through the use of sustainable practices and infrastructure, counties will be better prepared to address these issues in a manner that can minimize the impact on local residents and businesses, while helping counties save money.


​Through the initiative, NACo:

  • Develops strategies to foster economic growth and competitiveness, 
  • Educates counties on techniques for implementing resiliency and sustainability strategies,
  • Provides tools for counties to educate their communities on resiliency initiatives, 
  • Identifies ways to leverage changing conditions and take advantage of new technologies and innovation, and 
  • Facilitates an open exchange with the private sector


 Initiative Activities and Resources

Initiative Activities

Within this initiative, NACo is sponsoring trainings, peer networking and resource development to support county leaders and other public- and private-s​ector partners seeking to build county resilience. These include:

Initiative Resources

Below please find presentations delivered at the December 2013 Resilient Counties forum. Click on each speaker’s name to view the presentation.​  View the full forum program here.

Lessons from County Leaders: Partnering to Confront Change

​A panel of county leaders discussed how their communities responded to significant local disasters and the steps they are taking to mitigate potential future disasters, with a particular focus on local and regional partnerships to maintain and improve county operations during times of crisis.

Leveraging Technology Tools to Prepare for Threats

New technologies, innovative mapping tools, mobile applications, social media and other tech resources can revolutionize how counties prepare for and recover from crisis situations. A panel of experts highlighted innovative tools available to counties.

  • Lori Cary-Kothera, Operations Manager  – Science and Geospatial Solutions Division, NOAA Coastal Services Center
  • Jason Hutchens, Solution Sales Engagement Manager – Public Safety (Central Region), Motorola Solutions
  • Rob Welton​, National Business Manager – Enterprise Security, Siemens.  
  • Moderator: Lauren Alexander Augustine, Director – Office of Special Projects on Risk, Resilience, and Extreme Events, National Academy of Sciences

Local Philanthropic, Business and Economic Development Engagement in Recovery Efforts​

The philanthropic community, local business leaders and economic development professionals can play a key role in fostering county resilience. Experienced community leaders described how their organizations have partnered with public- and private-sector leaders in recovery efforts.  View the presentations​.

  • Les Garner, President and CEO, Greater Cedar Rapids Community Foundation
  • Karla Twedt-Ball, Vice President for Programs, Greater Cedar Rapids Community Foundation 
  • Robin Barnes, Executive Vice President and COO, Greater New Orleans, Inc.
  • Lon Olejniczak, Senior Vice President, TransAmerica 
  • Cindy Dietz, Director of Corporate Communications, Rockwell Collins
  • Moderator: Gerald McSwiggan, Director of Issue Networks, U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation Business Civic Leadership Center
Partnership Exercise: Use the chart to map out your network of local partners in various sectors.

“Pervasive Readiness: Pipedream or Possible?” (chapter co-authored by Jason Hutchens, found in McGraw-Hill Homeland Security Handbook: Strategic Guidance for a Coordinated Approach to Effective Security and Emergency Management, Second Edition). Outlines significant lessons learned, best practices, and feasible approaches towards achieving a sustainable state of pervasive readiness.

"A Safe and Integrated City" (article by Rob Welton, Siemens): This paper explores ways that city leaders can work towards the goal of a safe, integrated city and options for financing safety and security technologies for their city.





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RSS_Sketch.png County Solutions and Innovation Blog Spotlight:
Resilient Counties
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....

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4 weeks ago

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 municipa...

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6 weeks ago

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 G...

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2 months ago

​Bringing Counties to the Table: Symposium on Food, Population Growth and the Environment

Written by Alix Kashdan, Community and Economic Development Intern
WWF Pandas in Nantes, France. Source: Flickr.

​​On November 12, 2014, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) held its annual Fuller Symposium in Washington, D.C., an event that brings together leaders in conservation, science and policy from across the country and the world to discuss pressing topics affecting the global environment.  This year’s symposium was titled “Whole Planet, Full Plate: Finding Ways to Feed the World Sustainably,” and focused on the challenges and strategies associated with sustainably feeding all people as the earth’s population grows to nine billion by 2050.  The conference’s speakers presented some staggering facts and statistics, such as:

  • ​40 percent of the earth’s land is used to produce food;
  • To meet th...
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3 months ago

New Program for Coal-Reliant Communities: Application Now Open!

Written by Jen Horton, NACo Program Manager.
The National Association of Counties and the National Association of Development Organizations (NADO) Research Foundation are pleased to announce a new opportunity for counties and regions experiencing economic challenges due to the contraction of the coal industry.  Throughout 2015, NACo and NADO Research Foundation will host three intensive, hands-on workshops designed to boost the innovative potential of coal-reliant counties and regions seeking to grow and diversify their economies. 

Counties and regions are asked to form teams to apply to enter the program, and teams that submit winning applications will be selected to attend a training workshop facilitated by expert practitioners.  These workshops will be structured to guide counties an...

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3 months ago