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.

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

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

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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Upcoming Webinar: The Location Affordability Portal, Version 2: A Better Understanding of How Location Impacts Affordability

Written by Jen Horton, NACo Program Manager.

Image from Flick user Ken Teegardin.

There is more to housing affordability than how much rent or mortgage you pay.  Transportation costs are the second-biggest budget item for most families, but previously there hadn't been an easy way for people to fully factor transportation costs into decisions about where to live and work.  The goal of the Location Affordability Portal is to fill this gap by providing the public with robust, standardized data and resources on combined housing and transportation costs to help consumers, policymakers and developers make more informed decisions about where to live, work and invest. 

The Portal, developed by the US Department of Housing...

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Coastal GeoTools Call for Abstracts

Written by Alyssum Pohl, NOAA Digital Coast Fellow.
coastal geotools image.JPG
The Coastal GeoTools conference has historically been held every other year by the National Atmospheric and Oceanic Administration (NOAA), but will be held in 2015 by NACo’s fellow Digital Coast co-partner, the Association of State Floodplain Managers (ASFPM).   This conference focuses on geospatial data, tools, technology and information for coastal resource management professionals .  If you or someone in your county is using geospatial solutions to address coastal issues, this conference would be a great opportunity to share these projects, or to learn more about how others are applying such solutions.  Coastal GeoTools will be held March 30 through April 2 in North Charleston, S...
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Upcoming NACo Webinar: Communicating Pipeline Safety Risks: Strategies and Tools for Local Governments

Written by Jen Horton, NACo Program Manager.
More than 164,000 miles of hazardous liquid pipelines and more than 295,000 miles of natural gas transmission pipelines move energy throughout the U.S. every day.  County leaders can impact pipeline safety in their community by developing communications and outreach strategies about new and existing pipeline development and potential pipeline risks.

Join NACo on Thursday, September 11th from 2:00pm-3:15pm ETfor a webinar that defines the challenges and opportunities related to pipeline safety in local communities, while detailing the roles county leaders can play to effectively communicate and promote pipeline safety in their local communities.  The webinar will also highlight national and local leaders who will provide best practices fo...

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3 weeks ago