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

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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:

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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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Sustainable Ports: Strategies for Port Development and Operations

June 2014

This issue brief explores the vital role that ports play in counties across the U.S., and what steps counties can take to ensure that they minimize their ports’ environmental impact while remaining competitive in local and global commercial activities. Case studies highlight innovative work that counties are already doing, and offer ideas and additional resources to support counties in promoting more efficient and sustainable port development.

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Understanding the Smart Grid: A Guide for County Leaders

February 2014

In February of 2014, the National Association of Counties released an issue brief on the role that counties can play in advancing energy technology through the adoption of and investment in smart grid technologies.​

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Energy Efficient County Buildings

January 2013
In May of 2012, the National Association of Counties and the Institute for Building Technology and Safety (IBTS) launched a study to learn more about how counties use energy in their buildings.

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The County Sustainability Team

October 2012

A poster which visually demonstrates the various departments within county government that are influencing s​ustainability to better their communities. Hard co​pies of the poster are available upon request​.

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2012 Emerging Sustainability Strategies in America’s Counties

October 2012

NACo's Green Government Advisory Board identifies key trends influencing the emergence of new sustainability strategies providing efficiency and cost savings to county government.

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America’s Counties Experience the Benefits of Soy Biobased Products

October 2012

A brief look at how counties are using Soy Biobased products to save money and green their counties.​

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Green Technology: How Tech Enables Counties to Invest in Renewables

Thursday, February 27, 2014; 2:00 PM - 3:15 PM Eastern Time

Recent advancements in technology have spurred interest and growth across the nation in renewable energy. Technology is allowing counties to more efficiently develop renewable energy programs - from siting new wind energy facilities, to creating energy from once unused sources including converting post-recycled solid waste into electricity, to ensuring reliable and secure transmission of energy via smart grids. By providing an easier path to renewable energy, technology is helping counties reduce energy costs and generate new economic activity, while meeting sustainability goals.

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Green Goods: How to Create Sustainable County Purchasing and Procurement Programs

​Wednesday, January 22, 2014; 2:00-3:15 PM Eastern time

As counties strive to reduce waste, conserve energy and lower operational costs, purchasing recycled and environmentally-friendly goods, materials and services can greatly contribute to meeting a county’s financial and sustainability goals. Join us to discuss how you can help your county develop an environmentally preferred purchasing program, navigate the myriad of product eco-labels and green purchasing guidelines and hear success stories from counties that have established sustainable purchasing and procurement programs.

CSI Blog Spotlight: Green Government rssicon.png
Upcoming Webinar: Creating New Partnerships for Successful Environmental Restoration EffortsNew

Written by Jen Horton, NACo Program Manager.
Many local communities across the country are pursuing environmental restoration projects that require a diverse group of dedicated partners and volunteers.  As a result, local environmental restoration leaders are seeking out new partnerships with universities, not-for-profit organizations, landowners, foundations and citizen volunteers to improve community and organization capacity to protect, restore and enhance ecological conditions.

To learn more about ways environmental leaders are pursuing and engaging new partnerships to meet environmental and habitat restoration goals, join the upcoming Five Star and Urban Waters restoration webinar Creating New Partnerships for Successful Environmental Restoration Effortson Tuesday, October 14 from 2:00 PM – 3:15 PM ET.  Participants will learn from leaders in environ...

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8 hours ago

New NACo Fact Sheet: Recommended Pipeline Safety Practices for Local GovernmentsNew

Written by Jen Horton, NACo Program Manager.
As communities develop and expand, new businesses and housing developments are affecting the nation’s existing pipeline infrastructure.  These changes have implications for the more than 183,000 miles of hazardous liquid pipelines and more than 299,000 miles of natural gas transmission pipelines that move energy throughout the U.S. every day.  Since county governments maintain a number of public facilities and make local land use and development decisions, it is important for county leaders be aware of how these responsibilities impact existing pipeline infrastructure.

There are a number of reasons why county leaders should prioritize pipeline safety.  First of all, an enormous amount of pipeline infrastructure crosses through a large number of counties.  Seco...

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32 hours ago

(NACo Podcasts) Enhancing Community Engagement with Data


Craig Cornu of the South Slough Estuarine Research Reserve in Coos County, Oregon, and Alyssum Pohl, NOAA Digital Coast Fellow here at NACo, join to discuss the role of data and information in community decision making and community engagement. Since 2009 the South Slough Reserve has been working with local stakeholders to create information – environmental and socio-economic – to help inform the community’s decision making process. Hear about the reserve’s efforts, the ups and downs of the project, and key takeaways for counties interested in developing a similar engagement program.

Subscribing to NACo Podcasts is simple. If you are using an Apple device, ...
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8 days ago

​NACo Participates in ASFPM’s No Adverse Impact Workshop​

Written by Alyssum Pohl, NOAA Digital Coast Fellow and Jen Horton, NACo Program Manager.

NACo Program Manager Jen Horton gives an overview of Digital Coast tools at NAI Workshop.

The Association of State Floodplain Managers (ASFPM) recently hosted the first No Adverse Impact workshop in Milwaukee, Wisc.  The goal was to introduce local policy officials and floodplain and coastal managers and planners to tools and approaches for reducing flood risk, particularly in the Great Lakes region.  The “No Adverse Impact” (NAI) approach to floodplain management offers local governments tools to prevent the acceleration of flooding and other negative impacts on the community in the near-term.  Specifically, the NAI approachcan empower local communities to identify the potential negative impacts of development and i...

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2 weeks ago

Taking Out the Trash: Baltimore’s Innovative Approach to a Healthy Harbor

Written by Alix Kashdan, Community & Economic Development Intern

Inner Harbor Water Wheel.  From Healthy Harbor Facebook page, with permission from Clearwater Mills.

In Baltimore, Maryland, the downtown Inner Harbor is the principal landmark of the city’s waterfront district.  Historically important for the region’s physical and economic growth, Baltimore Harbor continues to serve as a tourism generator and popular spot for locals today, with visitors enjoying the vibrant energy of its many restaurants, museums and historical attractions.  While the harbor serves as a central component of Baltimore’s economy, water pollution issues threaten the health of the harbor ecosystem and dampen people’s enjoyment of the space.  Aware of the vital role the harbor plays in the fab...

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2 weeks ago