Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Economic Development Division Annual Conference Session and Events!

Nearly 200 members of the Economic Development Division (including you!) have plans to attend the 2011 APA National Conference in Boston. We're very pleased with the turnout of EDD members, and want to remind you about the various Economic Development Division activities that will take place during the conference.

SUNDAY EVENING: Special Dinner Event

Growing the Green Economy: Linking Environmental Sustainability and Economic Development

A dinner sponsored by the Economic Development Division and the Environment, Natural Resources, and Energy Division

Sunday, April 10 – 7:00 p.m.

Legal Seafoods, Boston

Join your APA colleagues over dinner to discuss the challenges and opportunities of connecting economic growth to environmental sustainability. Our speaker will be Joan Fitzgerald Ph.D, Director of the Law, Policy, and Society Program at Northeastern University and author of Emerald Cities: Urban Sustainability and Economic Development (Oxford University Press, 2010). This event is $50.00 and includes a three-course dinner (drinks not included). You can sign up for this event at the APA conference registration page or on-site. CM credit (1) has been requested for this event.


Opportunities/Challenges in Rural Tourism Planning (S527)

Monday, April 11 – 2:30 p.m.-3:45 p.m.

1.25 CM credit

Tourism-related activities are an increasingly important component of rural economies providing income and diversification to rural communities. This session will examine current trends in rural tourism, which are being shaped by a rapidly shifting economic landscape and ongoing demographic change. Session speakers include Anne Krieg, AICP, Planning and Development Director, Town of Bar Harbor, Maine; and Robert Billington, Founder and Director of the Blackstone Valley Tourism Council in Rhode Island.


Economic Development Division Business Meeting and Reception

Monday, April 11 – 7:00 p.m.-8:30 p.m.

Sheraton Beacon B

Join your fellow Division members for our annual business meeting and reception. Refreshments will be served and we'll have a sponsored bar (i.e. free drinks!) Come network with fellow members in an intimate setting, celebrate our award winners, discuss the EDD work plan, and more! Please RSVP if you can join us!

TUESDAY: EDD-Sponsored Mobile Workshop

Sustainable Devens Eco-Industrial Park (WO56)

Tuesday, April 12 – 10:00 a.m.-3:00 p.m.

4.00 CM credits

Discover how sustainability served as the organizing principle for the redevelopment of the 4,400-acre Fort Devens. Explore this live-work-play community where a third of the land is slated for protection. Learn why Devens is considered a premier example of a light industrial park operating as an eco-industrial park. This event is $75.00 and includes lunch.

Please forward questions about any of these events to Adam Ploetz, AICP, EDD Conference Chair, at adam.c.ploetz@hud.gov.

Want to lend a hand? We are seeking volunteers to help out in small teams to "staff" the Divisions Council exhibit booth for a couple hours on Sunday and Monday. This is a chance to work with people from other divisions and talk to planners from around the country. Let us know (by way of a reply) if you're interested in participating!

Finally, if you haven't yet read the Winter 2011 edition of News & Views, download it on our division's newsletter page.

We look forward to seeing you in Boston!

Monday, March 28, 2011


March 25, 2011   For Immediate Release


The City of Hampton, Virginia, is the 2011 recipient of the Donald E. Hunter Excellence in Economic Development
Planning Award from the Economic Development Division of the American Planning Association (APA).

The City of Hampton’s Peninsula Town Center is a successful redevelopment of an enclosed mall into a vibrant
town center providing approximately 2,400 new jobs and significantly increasing the taxable sales base in
Hampton. Prior to its redevelopment, the former Coliseum Mall was inwardly focused and obsolete with
increased vacancies and declining investment. The City of Hampton, through its community planning process,
developed the Coliseum Central Master Plan and design guidelines that recommended fundamental changes to
the property’s configuration into appropriately-scaled urban blocks supporting mixed-use pedestrian-oriented
development. The commitment by the City of Hampton to reinvigorate its aging business district motivated the
mall owners to partner with a development team to transform the site from a deteriorating enclosed shopping
mall into a vibrant mixed-use town center serving as a regional destination.

The panel was impressed with the project’s quality, contribution to the community, and successful
implementation and results as well as the role of planning to bring about the redevelopment. The panel was
unanimous in its selection of the City of Hampton as the 2011 Award recipient.

The Excellence in Economic Development Planning Award, which is accompanied by a $1,000 grant, will be
formally given to the City of Hampton at the 2011 National Conference of the American Planning Association in
Boston during the Economic Development Division’s annual meeting and reception on April 11.

The panel also awarded two Honorable Mentions to the City of Irvine, California, and the Town of Marana,

City of Irvine, CA: “Irvine Business Complex Mixed/Use Vision Plan”: The Irvine Business Complex (IBC)
Residential/Mixed-Use Vision Plan and Overlay Zoning Code development standards were developed to facilitate
the evolution of a primarily office and industrial center (the IBC) to a fully mixed-use business and residential
community. The IBC Vision Plan, adopted as a new element in the City’s General Plan, represents policy direction
to create both a neighborhood and economic growth framework for the IBC. The IBC Vision Plan project
encourages more housing units in the same area as one of the City of Irvine’s two major job centers in the 2,800-
acre IBC, the largest employment center in Orange County. The new mix of land uses will further facilitate infill of
underutilized properties in the area. The panel appreciated the “non-traditional” approach to economic
development and was impressed with the plan’s originality, comprehensiveness and to a certain degree,
transferability. As suburban areas, particularly inner-ring suburbs, experience increasing infill pressures, this
approach to developing a complete “economic ecosystem” is likely to become more desirable. The approach
taken by the City of Irvine could serve as a model for other areas of the country. (Contact: Bill Jacobs, AICP,
Principal Planner, City of Irvine Community Development Department, bjacobs@ci.irvine.ca.us, 949.724.6521.)

Town of Marana, AZ: “Marana Economic Roadmap”: The Marana Economic Roadmap is the Town’s first
strategic plan for economic development in its 34-year history. The Roadmap process was inclusive and focused
on the Town’s existing industry base, seeking to build supply chains and facilitate sustainable growth of major
employers. The Roadmap has been instrumental in the development and adoption of two incentive programs for
high-wage job creation in the town. The Roadmap process and programs directly led to the retention and
expansion of the Town’s largest manufacturer after potentially losing the company due to consolidation and
expansion of its worldwide facilities. The panel recognized the quality planning of this applicant as well as the
Roadmap’s comprehensiveness, transferability, and initial results. (Contact: Joshua H. Wright, Director of
Strategic Initiatives, Town of Marana, jwright@marana.com, 520. 382.1938.)

The awards committee consisted of members of the Economic Development Division of the APA: Julie Herlands,
Principal, TischlerBise (www.tischlerbise.com); Chair-Elect, EDD of the APA; Courtney Anderson Mailey, AICP,
Adjunct Faculty, Virginia Commonwealth University; Apprentice, Albemarle CiderWorks; former Regional
Community Development Manager, Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond; Della Rucker, AICP, CEcD, Principal, The
Wise Economy Workshop (www.wiseeconomy.com); and James Stevens, Senior Associate, ConsultEcon
Management & Economic Insight (www.consultecon.com)

The Hunter Economic Development Division of the APA provides an opportunity for APA members to join others
who share an interest in and responsibility on matters related to economic development. The mission of the
Economic Development Division is to advance the practice and state of the art of economic development by:
  • Increasing the understanding of economic development as a key element of public policy formulation at all levels of government;
  • Promoting economic development as a critical element of neighborhood community, regional, and national planning processes;
  • Disseminating materials and information about current economic development practice and theory to members of the division;
  • Assisting APA in positively influencing economic development policy; and
  • Promoting professional communication among members of the division through a variety of member services, including, but not limited to newsletters, web page, conference sessions, workshops, and other publications.
The Excellence in Economic Development Award is named for Donald E. Hunter, who passed away in late 2009.
He was a long time and very active member of the American Planning Association, always urging greater attention
for economic development planning. He was President of Hunter Interests Inc., an award-winning real estate
development and consulting firm based in Annapolis, Maryland. Don also served as a board member of the
International Economic Development Council (IEDC) and the International Downtown Association (IDA). He was a
frequent speaker on real estate trends and development and financing techniques, and received recognitions and
many other national awards during his long career.

Awards Committee Chair Redevelopment Manager
Economic Development Division City of Hampton
American Planning Association Economic Development Dept.
c/o TischlerBise One Franklin Street, Suite 600
4701 Sangamore Road, Suite S240 Hampton, Virginia 23669
Bethesda, Maryland 20816 800.555.3930
301.320.6900 x15 www.hamptonva.biz
www.tischlerbise.com ajordan@hampton.gov

Friday, March 25, 2011

Job Posting: VT Office of Economic Development

Virginia Tech's Office of Economic Development is seeking a senior specialist with an interest in both technology-based economic development and community economic development. The office provides leadership for the university and the Commonwealth in these areas. Recently this has included leading a $1.7 million effort to support new product development and process improvements in transportation equipment manufacturing funded by the US Economic Development Administration. The office is also spearheading partnerships managing almost $9 million from the US Department of Labor to develop and implement advanced training programs in green building and health information technology. For more information on the office see this link: http://www.econdev.vt.edu/

The senior specialist will develop and conduct applied research and technical assistance projects and provide leadership for the unit on collaborative design and implementation of projects. This position, reporting to the director of the office, is a restricted calendar year, administrative and professional faculty appointment. More information and online faculty application at www.jobs.vt.edu Posting #0110268. Review for this position http://tinyurl.com/48f68kv begins April 25.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Upcoming Event: NLC Leadership Academy

The National League of Cities (NLC) will be hosting a Leadership Academy on Local Economic Competitiveness in a Global Era in Seattle, April 20-21. Those interested are invited to participate in a brief audioconference, on Monday, February 21 at 2:30 p.m. Eastern Time, to preview the academy agenda and ask questions about the event. Register for the audio conference here.

The Leadership Academy will bring together teams of local elected officials, staff and key stakeholders with experts from all levels of government, academic and business sectors to discuss critical opportunities and challenges of foreign direct investment and trade promotion and to showcase promising practices from cities and regions across the country.

As part of the academy, NLC is partnering with the U.S. Departments of Commerce and Treasury to host a delegation of Chinese mayors, senior business executives and economic officials to allow U.S. and Chinese local officials to have a policy dialogue on core issues of local economic growth and development. U.S. local officials will also have the opportunity, in a session facilitated by the Department of Commerce, to directly engage foreign businesses seeking job-creating U.S. investment opportunities.

NLC’s Leadership Academy will provide participants with:

  • New knowledge and skills to understand the global economy in the context of local realities
  • A venue to put these new leadership skills into practice
  • Practical steps and strategies to translate new skills into action at home
  • NLC’s Leadership Training Institute credits

Application Information

The academy application deadline has been extended until Friday, March 4, to accommodate those participating in the audioconference. Competitively selected academy attendees will receive complimentary registration for this event. Attendees are responsible for covering travel and boarding costs. For application and more information about the Leadership Academy visit, www.nlc.org or contact Christiana McFarland, Program Director, Finance and Economic Development at mcfarland@nlc.org or (202) 626-3036.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Adapting Old Cities to Emerald Cities

Today's Emerald Cities Book Review Series blog post comes from Economic Development Division Chair and Principal of Development Strategies, Bob Lewis, AICP.

The City of St. Louis is just now embarking on a formal study to effectively determine how it can adapt to the themes raised by Joan Fitzgerald in her 2010 book, Emerald Cities: Urban Sustainability and Economic Development. My company is delighted to be part of this rather innovative and experimental venture by St. Louis, and I’m thankful that I read Ms. Fitzgerald’s book before the City called me! You should read it too—just in case.

Our role in what has a working title of a St. Louis Climate Sustainability Plan is to identify metrics that economically justify going green. Yes, we all know that going green is the right thing to do. My urban planning degree is from the Earth Sciences, Geography, and Planning department of Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville. While the planning component was budgeted out a couple of decades ago, I was immersed in the importance of environmental sensitivity when planning for and undertaking urban redevelopment. This is a movement with immense momentum around the globe today. But it is a movement that still has to prove its economic value.

Thus the need for economic metrics. Mayor Slay of St. Louis is insisting on it. He is a green believer, but he also needs to sell the concept to skeptics, like the city’s residents and businesses, who are asked to pay for going green. The questions become, “Does this save money?” and “How?”

Ms. Fitzgerald’s book contains a quote from Douglas Foy that addresses our economic challenge—but also the opportunity. The quote is, “Cities are the Saudi Arabia of energy efficiency.” My interpretation is that “thar’s gold in them thar cities.” All we have to do is find ways to mine it. What savings do we get from greener approaches to managing and operating our cities? Savings equals found money. What added economic development do we attract by going green, or at least greener? Jobs and businesses equate to found money and more tax base. Tax base adds to sustainability, and even growth, in the ability to support quality of life services in our old cities.

Thankfully, Joan Fitzgerald defines a slew of potential metrics that the Mayor can convincingly use as he manages the politics of a 200-year old city that has transformed from a commerce center to a manufacturing capital back to leadership in commerce, health care, and finance. My company’s job will be to translate Ms. Fitzgerald’s fine research into pragmatic measures directly applicable to St. Louis that demonstrate sounder economics in the urban setting. What a wonderful and fulfilling challenge for an economics guy with a background in earth sciences, geography, and planning.

Now, plan to join us to hear Joan Fitzgerald speak at our first annual Economic Development Division “open dinner” that we are co-hosting at the Boston APA National Conference with the Environment, Natural Resources and Energy Division on Sunday, April 10 at 7:00 pm at Legal Seafoods. Sign up when you register for the conference whether you are a division member or not. The networking will be fun and we’re going to learn a lot about adapting our old cities to emerald cities. See you there!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

New Series: Blogging Joan Fitzgerald's Emerald Cities

This is the first in a series of blog posts by EDD Board Members and our extended leadership team on Joan Fitzgerald's Emerald Cities. The Economic Development Division has teamed with the Environment, Natural Resources and Energy Division to host a dinner on economic development and the green economy with Joan Fitzgerald as the keynote speaker on Sunday, April 10th at 7:00pm at Legal Seafoods in Boston during the National Planning Conference.

This first blog post is by Adam Ploetz, AICP EDD Conference Chair and the Deputy Director of Sustainable Development Programs at the 495/MetroWest Partnership in Westborough, MA.

Aaron Renn, author of the blog Urbanophile, recently posted an article lamenting the failure of urbanists to communicate their goals appropriately to the general public. Renn argues that nowhere has this been more evident than around the issue of sustainability – particularly during the most significant economic downturn since the Great Depression. Renn states,
“Urbanists prattle on about sustainability all the time as if the last few years didn’t even happen. No wonder it’s not working. And because pretty much all urbanist policies have been sold as about sustainability, there’s a linkage in the public’s mind, so that if they don’t believe in climate change or don’t rate it highly in favor of more immediate concerns, that takes urbanism down with it. The good news is, it doesn’t have to be that way. With better packaging, I believe there is a case for pro-urbanist policies (including those that promote sustainability), one that can work with the times and the trends instead of against them. … I’m convinced there’s a lot more people who would be open to various environmental and urbanist ideas if we talked about their practical benefits rather than how they are good for the planet (even if they are).”

Renn is correct; sustainability is a hard sell in good times and a nearly impossible one during bad. Considering that they are at the intersection of economic development and sustainability, planners who focus on economic development and planners who focus on natural resources/environmental issues must deal constantly with the failure to communicate the positive connections between sustainability and economic growth outlined by Renn.

In an effort to advance the dialogue on the challenges and opportunities of connecting economic growth to environmental sustainability the Economic Development Division has teamed with the Environment, Natural Resources and Energy Division to host a dinner on Sunday, April 10 7:00pm at Legal Seafoods in Boston during the National Planning Conference.

Our guest speaker will be Joan Fitzgerald, Director of the Law, Policy and Society Program at Northeastern University and author of the book Emerald Cities: Urban Sustainability and Economic Development (Oxford University Press, 2010). In Emerald Cities, Fitzgerald shows how in the absence of a comprehensive national policy, cities have taken the lead in addressing the interrelated environmental problems of global warming, pollution, energy dependence, and social justice. Cities are major sources of pollution but because of their population density, reliance on public transportation, and other factors, Fitzgerald argues that they are uniquely suited to promote and benefit from green economic development. For cities facing worsening budget constraints, investing in high-paying green jobs in renewable energy technology, construction, manufacturing, recycling, and other fields will solve two problems at once, sparking economic growth while at the same time dramatically improving quality of life.

Join your APA colleagues and hear from an expert on connecting economic growth to environmental sustainability and offer your perspective to the conversation. This event is $50.00 and includes a three course dinner (drinks not included). You can sign up for this event at the APA conference registration page. CM credit (1) has been requested for this event. Though sponsored by the Economic Development and the Environment, Natural Resources, and Energy Divisions, this event is open to all APA members. For more information about the dinner please contact Adam Ploetz at adam@495partnership.org.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Governor Brown’s Budget Proposal – Issues for Economic Development

Today's post was authored by Bill Anderson, City of San Diego Director of City Planning and Community Investment, and Immediate Past Chair of the APA Economic Development Division.

California Governor Jerry Brown unveiled his budget proposal. It is a combination of budget cuts, restructuring, and a proposal to the voters to extend for another five years existing taxes that are due to expire. His proposal would close a projected $25.4 billion budget gap ($8.2 billion this fiscal year and $17.2 billion next fiscal year), with budget cuts covering almost half ($12.5 billion), and tax extensions ($12 billion) and other measures ($1.9 billion) covering the other half. He also would shift several responsibilities from the State to local jurisdictions, purportedly including some revenue to go with the new responsibilities. Many of these proposals, especially continuation of existing temporary taxes, would have to be approved by the voters in a special election, perhaps this June.

The Governor’s budget includes three actions important for planners and economic developers:

  1. Eliminate Redevelopment Agencies
  2. Eliminate State Enterprise Zones
  3. Add a provision that would allow voters in local jurisdictions to approve funding for economic development activities with a 55 percent majority vote.
If passed, it would dramatically affect how community revitalization and redevelopment is done in California. The Administration’s rationale also presents opinions that have been debated by economic developers, planners, academics, and the public for decades.

Eliminate Redevelopment

Redevelopment and its tax increment is one of the primary economic development tools in California for funding affordable housing, infrastructure, and planning in designated areas to ameliorate blight. In California, tax increment is collected from a redevelopment project area, formed in accordance with Redevelopment Law. At least 20 percent of the tax increment must be spent on affordable housing. Since 1993, almost 100,000 low and moderate income housing units have been built. A portion of the tax increment is distributed with other taxing jurisdictions, such as counties and school districts, while most is spent by the Redevelopment Agency on allowed redevelopment activities, such as land assembly and infrastructure, but also economic development, rehabilitation programs, fa├žade improvement programs, and planning within the redevelopment project area.

The Governor proposes the elimination of Redevelopment agencies by July 1st, 2011. He proposes to replace them with a shell structure so that existing debt and contractual obligations would be honored, but new obligations would be prohibited. Surplus Affordable Housing Set-Aside funds would be transferred to local housing agencies. Unencumbered tax increment funds would be distributed to other taxing agencies.

The Governor argues that tax increment is money that would otherwise go to cities, counties, school districts, and other agencies. These agencies generally have accepted redevelopment activities, and have agreed to forfeit a share of property tax increment with the expectation that revenues will be greater in the long run once redevelopment project areas have completed their purpose and expire.

However, now is a time when most agencies have significant budget deficits and are cutting basic services. Since the adoption of Proposition 13 in 1978 (when Jerry Brown was last Governor), the State has backfilled school district budgets, which creates a strain on the State budget. The Administration estimates that elimination of Redevelopment agencies would save the State budget approximately $1.9 billion.

The premise is that most jurisdictions cannot afford to relinquish revenue to redevelopment agencies, no matter how important the redevelopment activity, and that much of the tax increment generated is from economic activity that would have occurred in the region anyway, if not within the redevelopment project area. Redevelopment advocates, on the other hand, argue that most of the tax increment revenue, and other derived local taxes such as sales and transient-occupancy taxes from redevelopment project areas, would not have occurred if it were not for redevelopment and its investments. The California Redevelopment Association estimates that in a typical year, statewide redevelopment project areas contribute $40 billion in economic activity, and $2 billion in state and local taxes, and over 300,000 private and public sector jobs, annually. Of this annual amount, $19 billion in output and 171,000 jobs are associated with new construction of buildings and infrastructure.

The Governor counters that because tax increment is generated from an area rather than an individual project, much of the tax increment is from general property inflation or appreciation, rather than from direct redevelopment activities. Advocates for redevelopment say that redevelopment investments lift value of surrounding properties as well and, therefore, it is appropriate to capture some of the tax increment derived, even if it is from appreciation.

There are almost 400 redevelopment project areas in California, with major success stories, including our own Downtown San Diego where $1.5 billion in public investment has leveraged $12.8 billion in private investment, an 8.4:1 ratio. This proposal will be complex to implement, even if it is supported, and if adopted, it will face legal challenges. There are questions as to whether the Legislature can disband Redevelopment Agencies (which are technically state agencies), or if it requires a constitutional amendment and voter approval. California voters approved Proposition 22 just last November which prohibited the State from taking local funds, including funds from redevelopment agencies. However, if the State eliminates the agencies all together, is this prohibition even relevant?

Enterprise Zones

Enterprise Zones give certain tax benefits to businesses located within a zone. It’s an economic development tool to encourage businesses to locate and expand within certain geographic areas covered by the zone. The new administration argues that while this is a benefit to these areas, there is limited evidence that they generate new economic activity statewide – that they are simply a transfer of economic activity which the state subsidizes, and often is economic activity that would have occurred within the state anyway. I remember hearing this argument from some of my professors in graduate school almost 30 years ago. The Administration estimates that elimination of Enterprise Zones would make over $900 million available to local governments.

Voter-Approved Economic Activity

This part of the proposal has not received as much attention yet, but it could be significant in the future. Currently, special activity bonds and taxes require a two-thirds vote of the public within the local jurisdiction. The Governor’s proposal would allow voters in a local jurisdiction to direct some of their fiscal revenue to economic activities they choose, such as community development and redevelopment in another form. It’s not definitive if this could be a dedication of current fiscal revenue, tax increment, sales taxes, new property tax overages, special taxes, or other voter approved mechanisms. The reduction of voter approval thresholds from two-thirds to 55 percent is significant. Many initiatives to fund special activities have received more than 55 percent voter approval, but failed because of the difficult challenge of convincing two-thirds of the voting public to approve funding. There is almost always one-third of the public opposed to any public expenditure. Tailored economic development strategies pitched to the voters for funding may become more common.

The Governor has made a bold proposal. He admits hard choices and painful cuts of programs that he supports, but the budget proposal is specific and allows the public to debate and come to grips with their priorities. Clearly, the Governor’s priority is K-12 Education, which was largely spared. In isolation, these proposals might not survive. Any reluctance to extend taxes that are due to expire will put pressure to cut even more than what the Governor proposes. Since elimination of these important economic development programs are part of the Governor’s comprehensive budget package, there is the risk that they will be supported, especially given the State Budget’s dire circumstances. Many Californians are generally supportive of the Governor’s desire to direct more decision-making and revenue to the local level, closest to the people, but the elimination of Redevelopment agencies, which are formed locally and governed locally, subject to State laws, seems to be a contradiction. The argument by the Governor tends to place a lower priority on geographically-targeted economic development programs that, as he asserts, transfers economic activity within the State and a region, rather than create new economic activity for California.

This, of course, depends on the type of activity. Investments in infrastructure that support tourism and industry do indeed create export-oriented economic activity for the State of California. But even if it didn’t, even if it was just a transfer, isn’t the revitalization of blighted areas of California, and investment that supports innovative developments (such as transit-oriented development) and affordable housing good public policy and a long term benefit? If so, are Redevelopment and Enterprise Zones necessary tools? Some states, such as Arizona and Washington, prohibit tax increment financing and still do economic development, but Redevelopment is so ingrained in the way California funds its place-based economic development activities, if the Governor’s proposal becomes law, the economic development tool box will need new tools.