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Urban green spaces serve as a catalyst for economic development
The Urban Land Institute (ULI) has recognized Klyde Warren Park in Dallas, Texas with this year’s Urban Open Space Award. The award, which began in 2009, highlights exceptional open urban spaces that enrich and revitalize their surrounding communities. In addition to garnering national recognition, the individual or organization responsible for creating or maintaining each year’s winning project receives $10,000. Past winners include The Parks and Waterfront at Southeast False Creek in Vanvouver, BC; Railroad Park in Birmingham, Alabama; Citygarden in St. Louis, Missouri and Campus Martius Park in Detroit, Michigan.
The Klyde Warren Park, a deck park built over the recessed Woodall Rodgers Freeway in Dallas, is a 5.2 acre urban green space that is operated by the private nonprofit Woodall Rodgers Park Foundation. The park hosts daily free activities ranging from fitness boot camps, children’s theater and live music. The built environment includes walking paths, a botanical garden, restaurant and much more.
Originally envisioned in the 1960s when the freeway was first recessed, the idea for a deck park surfaced again in 2002, started gaining financial support in 2004 and the park was completed in 2012. Now, it serves a sort of new town square, bridging Dallas’s downtown arts and culture district with adjoining mixed-use neighborhoods. By increasing pedestrian connectivity, Klyde Warren Park has begun to heal the urban fabric of the city and encourage ongoing transformation for downtown Dallas through improved quality of life.
This year’s other finalists also have strong ties to economic and neighborhood development. They include: Columbus Commons and Scioto Mile in Columbus, Ohio; Guthrie Green in Tulsa, Oklahoma, The Railyard Park and Plaza in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and Washington Park in Cincinnati, Ohio. Each of these new public spaces has served as a catalyst for economic growth in the areas surrounding them. In the words of ULI’s award jury chair, M. Leanne Lachman, “Each finalist encourages communities to stay and actively participate, enlivening their neighborhoods and tightening the fabric of their cities.”
To learn more about Klyde Warren Park and this award, explore the following links:
“Dallas’s Klyde Warren Park Selected for ULI Urban Space Award”, Urban Land Magazine
Urban Land Institute’s Urban Open Space Award
Immigrant Growth in Metros, Suburbs
Recently released analysis of the 2013 American Community Survey data by the Brookings Institution reveals that the US immigrant population is growing and in a majority of large MSAs, much or all of that immigrant population growth is happening in suburbs.
The paper reveals a slight uptick in immigrant population growth from 2012 to 2013, with most of that growth concentrated in the nation's large metro areas. Immigrant populations grew significantly in traditional gateway cities like New York, Houston and Chicago, but the fastest growth rates were largely concentrated in the Southeast. Knoxville, Nashville, Raleigh, Charlotte, Louisville and Charleston all saw their immigrant populations more than double from 2000 to 2013. Only the Los Angeles and El Paso MSAs saw drops in foreign born residents over that period. During the same period the share of immigrants living in the suburbs increased from 56% to 61%.
Further evidence that immigration is not just a border issue or big city issue, its a national issue with ramifications for cities and suburban areas across the country.
Making Places Better
Since its inception, ACCE's Economic and Community Development Division has emphasized the place-making and product development side of economic growth. After all, its the piece of economic development in which every chamber of commerce has a role. Earlier this month our friend Rob Radcliff at Resource Development Group articulated this point in a blog post too good not to share.
From client communities as diverse as Miami and Rocky Mount, Rob cites a common laundry list of issues corporate leaders want to improve: "Talent, infrastructure, housing, access to capital, K-12 education, entrepreneurism, higher ed-business collaboration, physical product, government regulation and tax structure." These are big scale, systemic issues. Success is constantly measured on a scale, not with a check box. Regions don't have to be perfect on all these fronts, but they have to be improving. Rob's words: "Companies want to be places that want to be better."
Making places better. That's the clarion call for chambers of all sizes in all kinds of markets. You are responsible for economic development so identify the areas where your organization can best drive advancement and get to work!
Tags: Economic Development
Business Growth in Missouri
Entrepreneurial support is blossoming in the Show-Me State, as new programs and support land in St. Louis and Springfield. Namely, the Kansas-based Pipeline, an entrepreneurship grooming program, is expanding services into St. Louis and other parts of Missouri after receiving a new grant.
Pipeline is a yearlong fellowship program designed for successful high-performance entrepreneurs to work as a team to build new technology and life-science businesses. Not only will qualified entrepreneurs in St. Louis be eligible to participate as fellows, but this will also mean holding one of the program’s meetings in the region, bringing focus to the local entrepreneurial community.
The St. Louis Regional Chamber of Commerce has also committed to entrepreneurial support by naming Jason Hall the vice president of entrepreneurship and innovation, adding to his current responsibilities. Over the next four years, Hall hopes to increase the regional funding capacity by $100 million to support startups by forming a sidecar investment fund. This fund, for which Hall plans to hire a private fund manager, will match early stage private sector investments.
Springfield, MO has been cultivating a supportive environment for startups for many years. The area is now gaining national attention for these efforts, and has been named a “Best City to Start a Business” by WalletHub. The eFactory, a technology-focused entrepreneurship center and business incubator at Missouri State University, has also received recognition, being named the 2014 Community Impact Award recipient by Trade & Industry Development magazine.
Earlier this month, eFactory committed to helping a new start-up business, as Share a Gig was awarded the prize at the Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce’s Go BIG Pitch Competition. Share a Gig will receive $5,000 and a six month lease at eFactory to help develop its idea to bring full gigabit internet access to residents and businesses of urban markets without the traditional costs of building out a high capacity gigabit fiber network.
To read more about these victories for Missouri, check out the news stories below:
- Pipeline Entrepreneur Program Will expand Network to St. Louis
- St. Louis Regional Chamber’s Hall looks to add millions in startup funding
- Springfield’s entrepreneurial ecosystem garners national attention
- Gigabit internet service provider takes prize in pitch competition
Rome Chamber gets geeky
Geek Week 2014, taking place October 6-11, is a community celebration of technology and innovation in Rome, Georgia. What started three years ago as a celebration of the IT Department at the Floyd Medical Center in Rome, GA has blossomed into a week-long, community-wide event reveling in all things geeky.
The Greater Rome Chamber of Commerce's Technology SquareTable hosts an exciting lineup of events including: a trivia game on kick-off night, egg drop competition, cookout and 'cardboard challenge'. In hopes that this event positively impacts the entire community, the Chamber promotes open participation in these events as well as encouraging individuals, schools, companies and non-profits to host their own events and activities around the themes of technology, innovation, and creativity.
Geek Week is a vehicle to highlight and appreciate the impact of technology on our lives both at home and at work. The Chamber also hopes to encourage the next generation to explore STEM-related (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) fields of study and careers by showcasing the technology and innovation that is happening in Rome.
To find out more about Geek Week Rome, click the links below:
Geek Week Rome on Facebook
Rome News Tribune's Article, Geek Week 2014 celebrates creativity in Rome
Follow the action on Twitter
Considering Obesity in Site Selection
Site selectors have to consider a variety of important factors when searching for communities to house their companies. While workforce health is one of the least discussed factors in site selection, due to a combination of both legal issues and lack of awareness, rising obesity rates and the associated healthcare costs are now demanding the conversation.
Last week, Site Selection magazine released a story covering a newly published report by Trust for America's Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF).The study explores the rates of obesity among adults and children in this country. Findings indicate that six states saw an increase in obesity prevalence over the last year, and no states demonstrated improvement. Obesity rates are now at the highest ever in two states - reaching over 35% in both Mississippi and West Virginia. Twenty more states are above 30%, and there are no longer any states below 21%.
Obesity increases risk for type two diabetes, heart disease and a host of other health concerns. If obesity rates continue to rise, employers will feel the increased financial burden of insuring their growing workforce.
Studies highlighted in Site Selection show that engaging industry leaders can make a significant impact in reducing obesity while increasing their business’ bottom line. For example, corporate wellness programs show a consistent ROI in terms of reducing healthcare costs and increasing employee productivity.
With scales climbing right alongside healthcare costs, the business community can no longer afford to ignore how the health of the current and future workforce impacts their ability to compete in a global economy. Companies selecting new areas to expand or relocate their operations are seeking healthy communities driving healthy economies.
Consider the following resources for more information:
ACCE's Workforce Wellness Communication Briefs
Site Selection magazine's "Waistline Watch"
Lessons on Entrepreneurship from MIT
The highlight of last month’s Metro Council CEO roundtable in Boston for me was our trip over the Charles River to MIT. Thanks to Paul Guzzi and the Greater Boston Chamber, our group met with Lita Nelsen, Director of MIT’s Technology Licensing Office to discuss tech transfer and the university’s role in supporting a robust entrepreneurial ecosystem. When I say robust, I mean robust. One recent study found 25,800 active companies founded by MIT grads employing 3.3 million people with annual worldwide sales of $2 trillion. At least a million of those jobs are in Massachusetts.
From Lita’s enlightening presentation I took away 3 key points:
- Real estate doesn’t matter that much. Dozens of successful companies were founded in grubby basements around Cambridge. And despite high commercial rent, starts ups still flourish (and mostly stay) in greater Boston. This is not to say that helping provide affordable, conducive space won’t help startup ventures… but a shiny new incubator building does not guarantee any success.
- You don't need a Czar. MIT has successfully maintained a flourishing start up environment without anyone “in charge.” The Tech Licensing Office helps with patents and investment, Sloan Management School has an entrepreneurship track, alumni group runs mentoring, the School of Engineering has shared lab space, the Deshpande Center for Tech Innovation provides grants… but there is no “czar” of entrepreneurship. There is lots of coordination, but faculty and staff have fought all attempts to centralize.
- Successful startup executives matter. Accomplished business builders, marketers and operators - are as important to a robust ecosystem as inventors, research and patents. This is the often overlooked element of MIT’s success and an area where all chambers can add value.
For more on MIT’s support for startups, check out Kauffman Foundation’s report – Entrepreneurial Impact: The Role of MIT.
Regional Cooperation in Waco
An historic announcement from central Texas this week…10 local and ethnic chambers of commerce across McLennan County announced the signing of an MOU to form an alliance. The McLennan County Chamber Alliance forges a closer working relationship (and cements board level cross-pollination) between the organizations on public policy, economic and community development, infrastructure and other key issues.
“We can do special things if we work together,” said Matt Meadors, Greater Waco Chamber CEO. Anyone who’s tried to build a regional coalition knows how many barriers and interests are overcome to get to this stage of cooperation. We’ll be watching as this group evolves.
Recent Poll from Achieve Tracks Voter Perceptions of New Education Standards
Achieve, an independent, nonpartisan, nonprofit education reform organization, recently conducted a national poll to determine voter perceptions of public education and the Common Core State Standards. Here are some highlights from the survey:
- In the landscape of issues facing the country, public education was ranked on par with the economy and government spending, with 82% ranking improving the quality of public education extremely/very important compared to 88% for job creation and economic growth, and 78% for reducing the federal deficit and government spending.
- About two-thirds (67%) of voters agree that it is better for states to have the same standards in math and English rather than having different standards.
- The majority of those polled (63%) reported hearing little or nothing about Common Core State Standards. Those who were aware were split in their opinion of the standards – 37% favorable; 40% unfavorable.
- However, once the respondents were provided with an explanation of Common Core State Standards and then asked if they would favor or oppose their implementation, a solid majority 69% (36% very strongly) were in favor vs. 23% in opposition.
The poll also tested who voters trusted the most when it came to information about education reform. The most powerful messengers were – in order – teachers, principals/superintendents, educational leaders and college presidents. Local employers also carry a lot of weight, particularly among business leaders.
ACCE’s Education team is working closely with Achieve and other national education foundations to spread word about the critical importance of improving college and career readiness. There are several resources available to help your chamber communicate effectively about education reform and the Common Core State Standards. Achieve has compiled a comprehensive set of tools and resources available at www.businessandeducation.org. You can also check out a previous ACCE blog post on Business-Friendly Tools for Chambers to Support a College & Career-Ready Agenda.
If you have any education-related questions contact Jessie Azrillian at firstname.lastname@example.org, 703.998.3571.
Created in 1996 by a bipartisan group of governors and business leaders, Achieve is dedicated to working with states to raise academic standards and graduation requirements, improve assessments, and strengthen accountability. The national poll was conducted in November of 2013.
Grant Opportunity for Transforming Communities
ACCE has recently learned about a grant opportunity that supports communities like yours which are highlighting their distinctive attributes.
ArtPlace America, a collaboration of 13 leading national and regional foundations and six of the nation’s largest banks, is accepting applications for its 2014 Innovation Grants. Grants will be awarded to projects that involve arts organizations, artists and designers working with local and national partners on place-based strategies that can transform communities.
Past recipients of the grant and types of projects supported include:
- St. Claude Arts District and Parkette Program (New Orleans)
St. Claude Main Street, Inc. (SCMS) and CivicCenter
To encourage commercial and cultural revitalization along a pivotal corridor in New Orleans, St. Claude Arts District and Parkette Program will unify and support the corridor’s creative endeavors and promote its activities through innovative marketing, visual identification and community engagement programs developed in partnership with internationally-renowned artist and designer Candy Chang.
- REVOLVE Livernois (Detroit)
Detroit Economic Growth Association (DEGA) REVOLVE Program
REVOLVE Livernois will match world-class designers and artists with local university students, residents and entrepreneurs to activate vacant storefronts and public spaces with pop-up artinstallations, businesses and events to transform Detroit's historic "Avenue of Fashion."
- CreateHereNowCT (State of Connecticut)
State Dept of Economic & Comm Development/CT Office of the Arts
CreateHereNowCT is a pilot program of the State of Connecticut DECD/COA that will build a network of distinctive, artist-repurposed vacant spaces statewide in 20 participating towns and cities, for the creation and growth of businesses and sustainable placemaking initiatives by fostering cooperative partnerships among municipalities, artists, entrepreneurs and property owners.
According to ArtPlace America’s website, “the Innovation Grants program is designed to invest in creative placemaking projects that reach for new possibilities and involve a variety of partners who together are committed to increasing the vibrancy and diversity of their communities.”