Monday, August 31, 2009

The Clarendon Hotel Challenge

This is the first in a periodic series of blog posts that asks EDD members and our regular blog readers to give their input on a real-world economic development issue.

This week’s economic development challenge involves a small city in Ohio that purchased a historic hotel, the Clarendon Hotel, in its downtown with the hope of finding a private developer to renovate the property as a hotel and restaurant. The city has not been able to find anyone willing to make the upfront investment, and is now considering redeveloping and operating the property itself, until a private buyer can be found, which they believe will take about three years. The city plans to redevelop and operate the Clarendon Hotel through a Community Improvement Corporation (CIC) and a Limited Liability Corporation (LLC).

  • Do you know of any examples where something like this has been done – where a municipality, through vehicles like CICs and LLCs, has developed and operated a business for a number of years?
  • Are there any alternative approaches the City could take to redevelop this property that you would recommend?
  • What organizations and resources might aid the City in fulfilling their desire to redevelop the Clarendon Hotel?
We particularly look forward to hearing from those of you that have experience redeveloping historic properties in small cities across the country!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Announcing the Eco-Industrial Development Guidebook

The Eco-Industrial Development Guidebook and Case Studies aims to provide an orientation for government officials and managers planning or running industrial parks who are thinking of adapting eco-industrial development strategies to their property and region. It is a guide to the process of EIP development, outlining the elements and resources needed to start a successful modification towards sustainable industrial development. The link provides the full Guidebook and over a dozen case studies from the United States and Canada.

The Guidebook is produced by Peter Lowitt, AICP, of the Devens Enterprise Commission and Andreas Koenig, of with assistance of the Economic Development (ED) and Environment, Natural Resources and Energy (ENRE) Divisions of the American Planning Association. We are pleased to provide this valuable resource and trust this will become an indispensable tool in eco-industrial park development and management.

Access the guidebook (APA or ENRE membership required) at:

Friday, August 7, 2009

APA & EDA Reauthorization

As Bill Anderson pointed out in his posting on the future of the U.S. Economic Development Administration, APA has been working with Capitol Hill on the agency's pending reauthorization and is interested in your input. In July, President Obama nominated and the U.S. Senate confirmed a new director for EDA. John Fernandez is the new Assistant Secretary of Commerce. He has a background in local government as the former mayor of Bloomington, Indiana. With the appointment process complete, Congress is poised to begin serious consideration of the EDA reauthorization following the August recess. After meetings with House and Senate staff, we expect to see committee action in September or October and a final bill by the end of the year.

APA has been working with a coalition of organization interested in EDA issues on the reauthorization. Partners include the National Association of Development Organizations and the National Association of Regional Councils. The coalition has discussed a number of ideas for EDA reauthorization with congressional staff, including:

  • Flexibility in local matching requirements
  • Linkage to other Obama Administration sustainability initiatives
  • Increased support for planning
  • New incentives or "extra credit" for innovative or coordinated planning
  • Disaster recovery and mitigation activities
  • Local and regional data issues
  • Flexibility on data requirements
  • Changes to state revolving funds
  • Expediting project approvals
  • New standards and measurement for 'distressed' communities

The comments on Bill's post have been helpful. I wanted to give everyone a more specific sense of some of the issues under discussion and invite you to give APA your ideas and insights. Feel free to email me directly on this issue (or other policy matters) at but post your comments to keep the discussion going.

We'll be discussing this and other new federal initiatives at the upcoming APA Federal Policy and Program Briefing in Washington October 4 - 6. You can get more information and register online.

Thanks for inviting me to join the discussion!

Jason Jordan

Director of Policy & Government Affairs

American Planning Association

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Planners and the Green Economy

Green economic development is center-stage this afternoon on a White House blog post. The post is promoting the coalition organization, Green the Block, which aims "to educate and mobilize low-income, traditionally under-served communities to ensure they have the resources and platforms needed to access the benefits and opportunities of the growing clean-energy economy." It also mentions that "through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, we've already invested more than $60 billion toward the green jobs of tomorrow."

An article in the Winter 2009 EDD News and Views, "Economic Development and the Green Economy" by Isabelle Xu and Shana Johnson noted that while the "green economy" has become a buzz word, an explicit definition of the nature and potential of green industries is only now developing. APA's Green Communities Research Center currently offers links to two articles on planning for green jobs, but clearly our knowledge on planning for green jobs is still in its infancy. A February 2009 Planning magazine article, "Blue Collar, Green Collar" argued that planners should think ahead and preserve some industrial space threatened by redevelopment for future green industries. (EDD membership is required to view the News and Views article, APA membership is required to view the Planning magazine article).

Today, the division wants to hear your thoughts on the future of green jobs and industries.

How should economic development planners prepare our communities for the green economy?

Has your community been impacted by American Recovery and Reinvestment Act's funds for green jobs training, home weatherization or other renewable energy projects? Are green jobs in demand in where you live? Would you consider targeting green industries or jobs in your economic development plan?