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.