Grant Opportunity for Transforming Communities
Tania Kohut on Wednesday, November 13, 2013 at 12:00:00 am Comments (0)
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.”
Does your community have a project that may be a contender? Letters of inquiry must be submitted by Dec. 13. Get all the details and guidelines here.
Listening to Leaders: Regional Stewards & Civic Innovators
Shelley Lauten on Friday, November 8, 2013 at 12:00:00 am Comments (0)
ACCE’s Regional Strategies Division is launching a new series of Leadership Profiles focused on how regional leaders across the country are “making it happen.”
By Shelley Lauten, partner with triSect, LLC, a strategy consulting firm focused on civic innovation (www.trisectinnovates.com).
Regional collaboration, as theory, makes a lot of sense. Communities come together to share resources. Partnerships are formed to leverage assets. Public agencies and private companies come together to build stronger economies and enhance their communities’ quality of life.
Why then, is “regional collaboration” so darn hard? ACCE’s Regional Strategies Division launches this quarterly series to interview regional practitioners who are breaking down barriers and creating innovative partnerships—and showing specific and measurable impact in their regions.
Who better to begin this series than the leaders of the Greater Des Moines Partnership—winners of the 2013 Organizational Champion Award for its work on behalf of “Capital Crossroads”?
I sat down with leaders of the Greater Des Moines Partnership—Jay Byers, CEO, Eugene Meyer, president and Susan Ramsey, senior vice president of communications and marketing, to get a clearer understanding not only what they’ve done, but how they’ve done it.
SL: Let’s start from the beginning. The Greater Des Moines Partnership was created by the leaders of the Greater Des Moines Chamber Federation, which had been in existence for over 100 years. Susan, you were there through the transition. Why the change?
Susan: In the late 1990s, our business leaders saw the writing on the wall. They were serving on multiple boards and supporting multiple organizations focused on very similar business and community issues. We had two separate economic development groups, one focused on the downtown core and one focused regionally; a separate chamber federation; and a separate downtown events and neighborhood improvement group. The organizations’ missions and goals were complimentary, but strategically, they were fragmented. Our investors’ time commitment alone was untenable, but they also felt they weren’t getting the best bang for the buck.
SL: So, where did you start?
Susan: The Chamber Federation chair led a core team of community leaders in reviewing other cities’ experience with similar growing pains, as well as the national trend towards regionalism. Improved efficiency was an important short-term goal, but ultimately they wanted improved economic competitiveness, with our communities coming together and collaborating for greater success.
SL: OK, but the Des Moines Chamber Federation had 125 years of tradition and institutional pride. Was that hard to overcome? How did it happen?
Susan: Very thoughtfully. While the details of the organizational merger were being finalized, a new investment initiative was launched to fund a five year economic and community development plan with clearly defined goals. The campaign raised a record (for the time) $10 million. Simultaneously, that same core team conducted an executive search for a proven regional leader. The combination of secured funding and new leadership created a win-win opportunity. At the end of 1999, three of the four groups formally dissolved to create the umbrella organization called the Greater Des Moines Partnership. The downtown group moved into the Partnership offices, but remained organizationally independent until its board approved the merger in 2003.
SL: Jay, how has the Partnership grown?
Jay: Creating a thriving business environment, for organizations large and small, is crucial to the overall success of the region. We began in 1999 with just over 2,000 business members and a fairly traditional member benefit program. Today, we work regionally with 20 affiliate chambers of commerce, representing 4,700 business members who wish to grow their businesses, grow their community, and grow economic opportunity for Central Iowa. By collaborating with local chambers, communities, and other local economic development groups, we have helped drive over $3 billion of capital investment since we merged in 1999.
SL: Wow. 20 Chambers coming together. How does the affiliated chamber relationship work?
Jay: In 2007, we joined forces with our regional chambers to develop an improved membership model that created the best value for the individual business and the region as a whole. With efficiency and effectiveness driving our discussions, we identified competing programs and services between the Partnership and our local chambers. We agreed to divide and conquer with a “dual membership” model we launched in 2008.
The affiliate chambers now sell all memberships, offering those services so important at the local level: networking opportunities, community engagement, and local leadership. Those members receive regional benefits from the Partnership at no additional cost: regional economic development, workforce attraction, downtown development, small business development, international programming, public policy, long term visioning, and more. Under this model, you have all the business-to-business connections of your local chamber, as well as the collective economic impact of the regional Partnership. Our regional work is funded primarily by over 300 public and private investors who want to see Greater Des Moines grow.
SL: Gene, how did all this lead to “Capital Crossroads,” your award-winning visioning process?
Gene: Capital Crossroads capitalizes on this new regional identity and buy-in to ensure Central Iowa continues to grow and prosper for current and future generations. The vision plan was developed by a steering committee that included the Partnership, but also involved other key community organizations: Bravo Greater Des Moines, Community Foundation of Greater Des Moines, Des Moines Area MPO, Iowa State University, Prairie Meadows, and United Way of Central Iowa.
We very intentionally expanded the scope of the plan to a geographic region that is within a 50-mile radius of the state capitol. We evaluated input from close to 5,000 citizens on everything from infrastructure to community culture. It took a year to get from input to implementation, but the time was well spent. Today, we have over 500 community and business leaders working on short and long-term projects with significant community support and momentum.
SL: What have you accomplished?
Gene: In the first year, we were able to complete 34 initiatives from across our 11 core areas or “Capitals.” More importantly, we’ve progressed on a number of key benchmarks, including graduation rate, employment, population growth, and per capita personal income. You can read the report online at www.capitalcrossroadvision.com, and you can hear Jay discuss them further during an ACCE webinar happening Nov. 8, at 2 p.m. ET.
And our efforts are paying off. Here are just a few of the community recognitions we’ve received this year:
SL: Jay, what advice do you have for others who might be interested in making regional partnerships work?
Jay: I’ve always believed in Peter Drucker’s quote: “The best way to predict the future is to create it.” That’s what we are trying to do in Central Iowa. We’ve set measureable goals, and we’ve been very open about our process. Our business and community leaders have asked us to look at everything: structure, process and programs… and evaluate ourselves against the best in class regions around the world. By doing so, we can build on this momentum and achieve our vision of a world class region where you’ll find big city opportunity in a place where you can breathe, a region where a thriving and robust economy equals greater prosperity and vibrant, safe, diverse neighborhoods, where talented, hardworking people collaborate to build successful businesses, and where we honor our heritage of education and stewardship of our natural resources in a clean and sustainable environment.
Thanks for letting us tell our story.
For more information on the Greater Des Moines Partnership, visit www.desmoinesmetro.com. You can participate with Jay Byers, CEO, during the Nov. 8 webinar.
Listening to Leaders is written by Shelley Lauten, partner with triSect, LLC, a strategy consulting firm focused on civic innovation (www.trisectinnovates.com). If you have a “Listening to Leaders” idea or have a regional success story you’d like to share, please email Shelley at Shelley@trisectinnovates.com
Chambers... Still on Top
Ian Scott on Friday, June 14, 2013 at 6:00:00 pm Comments (0)
It’s like deja vu. Late last spring I wrote a blog post praising chambers of commerce and their affiliates for dominating the list of top performing economic development groups. A year goes by and I’m writing practically the same blog post.
When Site Selection magazine released their Top Economic Development Groups of 2012 as the featured cover story for the May 2013 issue, chambers once again dominated. Congratulations to:
- Austin Chamber of Commerce
- Baton Rouge Area Chamber
- Economic Futures Group at the Spartanburg Area Chamber
- Metro Atlanta Chamber
- Mobile Chamber of Commerce
- Pittsburgh Regional Alliance
- Siouxland Initiative at the Siouxland Chamber of Commerce
- Southwest Louisiana Economic Development Alliance
That’s right folks, 8 out of the top 10 economic development groups in the country are chambers of commerce or are affiliate entities housed at chambers. The dominance continues in the second 10 where half are chambers of commerce or similar private sector lead regional entities.
- Cincinnati USA Partnership
- Dallas Regional Chamber
- Greater New Orleans Inc.
- Indy Partnership
- Nashville Area Chamber
What’s the basis for all this recognition you ask? Well it’s pretty rigorous. Here’s how Site Selection describes the ranking process:
“As in past years, the top performers were evaluated on a variety of criteria, with four objective measurements counting the most: jobs, capital investment, jobs per capita, and investment per capita. In addition, Site Selection looked at creativity of economic development strategy; depth and breadth of project activity; ability to generate breakthrough deals; and the ability to properly document the contributions of the economic development organization to actual project results.”
Objective criteria, creative innovation, breakthrough deals and documented leadership… if you want to model the best in economic development, you have to look at chambers.
Tags: economic development, EDC Division, rankings, business attraction
Employment Growth Snapshot
Ian Scott on Friday, May 24, 2013 at 2:15:00 pm Comments (0)
Garner Economics this week released a report digging in to the jobs picture for 372 regional economies in the United States. As you’d expect, the finding are a mixed bag.
First, the good news: employment figures are up in 80% of U.S. metro regions in Q1 2013 compared with Q1 2012. The majority of regions are adding jobs year over year and that’s an unequivocally good thing.
Compare current employment averages with pre-recession figures and the picture is less rosy. Employment is still below Q1 2008 levels in roughly 70% of U.S. regions. Many are within 2-3 percentage points of pre-recession employment levels, only a handful are still 10-15% down.
Of the 102 regions that have exceeded pre-recession job levels and continue to grow, most of the strongest performers share a significant energy sector presence. Midland and Odessa, Texas lead the pack with 21.8% and 20.3% job growth since Q1 2008 respectively.
Click to read the full study.
Tags: economic development; job growth; growth; economy; Garner Economics
Innovative ED Metrics
Ian Scott on Tuesday, April 23, 2013 at 10:45:00 am Comments (0)
Of course jobs and investment are key outcomes of successful economic development, but they’re not the only outcomes worth measuring.
Listen to this webinar recording from March 28, 2013 as Mac Holladay, CCE, president and CEO of Market Street Services shares some of the innovative ways chambers and regions are now measuring economic development success.
Click to watch - ACCE Economic Trends: Economic Development Metrics
Ian Scott on Wednesday, April 10, 2013 at 11:15:00 am Comments (0)
Headlines and opinion from around the economic and community development world...
Des Moines Goes SXSW
The Greater Des Moines Partnership was in Austin last week repping Central Iowa's start-up scene and arts/culture vibe at South by Southwest , the music, film, technology and innovation festival.
KC's Fiber Houses
Market Street Report blog introduces readers to fiber house, the newest noun in entrepreneurship.
Not Just a four-Year College Degree
The Dayton Area Chamber and its education partners have a huge success in associate degree attainment, worker retraining, and career academy high schools. Lumina Foundation devoted an entire issue of its magazine to Dayton's work.
Market Driven Planning
Citiwire's Curtis Johnson examines how a market driven, "place-making" approach to development is paying dividends for smaller communities and big regions in Texas
Advocacy is Essential
Jay Chesshir, CCE on Tuesday, March 26, 2013 at 5:00:00 pm Comments (0)
Government advocacy is essential to economic development. We all know that what happens at city hall, in the state house or in Congress has a significant impact on our ability to retain and grow jobs. And lest we forget, our elected leaders continually find ways to remind us.
The $85 billion in indiscriminate federal spending cuts known as sequestration is the most recent and broadly felt case in point. Like it or not, federal spending in vital areas like defense and research support thousands of private sector jobs in many communities. Business expansion decisions have been stymied by the extreme uncertainty in the healthcare market created by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Other companies have been forced to invest abroad because our federally regulated immigration system still won't allow them to hire skilled workers who happened to be foreign-born. While reduced government spending is a reality, our ability to educate government on economic impact is crucial to getting our economy growing again.
Unfortunately our government challenges are not limited to the federal arena. Many states have slashed the incentive programs needed to close deals, and they've cut funding to the universities that produce the talent companies need to hire. Often those cuts have come while pension liability and retiree health costs remain unaddressed. Local government is not immune from bad public policy either. Some cities have effectively hung an "Unwelcome" sign by passing English-only ordinances. Others have pushed "local-only" public contract bidding preferences that completely ignore the reality of our regional economies. The list could go on and on.
We can't fight all of these battles alone, but we also can't expect that others will take care of these problems for us. As area/regional chambers of commerce and economic development organizations, we must lead the charge in educating our local elected officials. If we're not the "Voice of Business," then who will be? We should partner with like-minded, pro-growth organizations to amplify our voices at the local, state and national levels.
Of course, government advocacy isn't just about fighting wrong-headed, job-killing government actions. It's equally about promoting smart public policy and supporting wise investment of public funds. Arkansas, Kentucky, Missouri, Ohio and a handful of other states have recently bent their steep prison spending curve by implementing smart corrections reform efforts supported by state and local chambers. Students in Dayton, Milwaukee, Spokane and scores of other cities are making serious strides in STEM education thanks in large part to productive partnerships between chambers and schools. Oklahoma City, host of the 2013 ACCE Convention, is a role model for cooperation between the public and private sectors to win overwhelming voter support for vital, job-creating infrastructure investments.
If your organization isn't sounding full-throated opposition to onerous propositions at all levels of government and leading the charge for smart policy and investment, you're not doing everything you can to support job growth in your community. Government advocacy is essential to economic development.
Infrastructure Part 3: Durham
Chaaron Pearson on Tuesday, November 20, 2012 at 10:00:00 am Comments (0)
Guest Post - John White, Director of Public Policy, Greater Durham Chamber of Commerce
Earlier this year, I was asked to take part in a webinar to discuss our involvement and the passage of a ½ cent sales tax for transit. While awaiting my turn to present on the issue, I listened to others familiar with the topic as they advised on how to best prepare for a ballot issue campaign. One person recommended having no less than $100K to fund campaign efforts, while another referenced needing at least a year to prepare, plan and educate the public on your issue. As I listened to these two individuals talk, I thought to myself this ought to be interesting….
In 2008, the North Carolina General Assembly passed enabling legislation allowing 94 counties the opportunity to charge & use a ¼ cent sales tax. The legislation also provided Durham, Orange and Wake County’s, also known as the Triangle, the opportunity to charge & use a ½ cent sales tax, for transit enhancements, with voter approval. Since 2009, the Durham Chamber and surrounding chambers have been at the table discussing this issue with the NC Dept. of Transportation as well as our elected officials at the state and local level. Unlike the other chambers, the Durham Chamber of Commerce is the only Chamber in the Triangle that has a dedicated committee to the topic of Transportation. In the summer of 2011, the Durham Board of County Commissioners decided to put this issue on the November 2011 ballot for voters to decide on. Given the Chambers role and attention to transit issues, the Durham Chamber stepped up and took the lead in organizing a campaign committee. I staffed the Durham Transit Campaign Committee and organized efforts of which led to the passage of the transit referendum. Having received 60.1% support for this ballot measure, to date, Durham is the only county that has successfully passed the ½ cent sales tax for transit within the Triangle region and the second in the State of N.C. (Mecklenburg County, 2007).
At last it was my turn to speak to Durham’s success during the webinar. After providing an abbreviated timeline of events, I informed the audience that the Durham Transit Campaign Committee, led by the Durham Chamber of Commerce, had roughly four months to organize. We did not raise over $50K.
Every community is different and while we can use lessons learned in other areas, it doesn’t mean that information is translatable to every community. Chambers are institutions that by design are forced to know business interest, community interest as well as who the players are within our respective communities. I’m glad to say that the Durham Chamber of Commerce understands how important this is and has been able to benefit from extending ourselves outside of the traditional box of business. Why should this example matter to business community? Since our success with this campaign, our creditability as an organization has risen along with the communities desire to work with the business community. Sure, people still come to us to sponsor most of everything. Nonetheless, we take this as part of the territory, knowing that in the end we’ve made more people aware of what we are capable of doing and the continual impact and reach chambers of commerce have!
Tags: infrastructure infrastructure transportation transportation funding, infrastructure transportation, infrastructure
Infrastructure Part 2: Stamford
Chaaron Pearson on Monday, November 19, 2012 at 10:00:00 am Comments (0)
Stamford, Conn.: Banking on Infrastructure
Transportation issues are becoming critical for Connecticut. According to the American Society of Civil Engineers, nearly a third of the state’s bridges are structurally deficient, 45 percent of its major roads are in mediocre or poor condition, and 58 percent of its urban highways are congested.
Following a comprehensive study of infrastructure issues in 2010, the Business Council of Fairfield County (BCFC) in Stamford issued a statement noting that:
· Infrastructure is critical to economic competitiveness.
· The U.S. and Connecticut have fallen behind most of the world’s developed nations in infrastructure quality and capacity.
· The balance sheets and budget deficits of our national and state governments do not allow enough investment to maintain our current position, let alone close the gap with our major competitors.
· Increased infrastructure investment can’t wait until public sector fiscal health returns.
BCFC then created a stakeholder group, the Infrastructure Investment Task Force, consisting of utilities, consulting firms, academics, economists and other companies that had a strong infrastructure focus. This group was able to develop an understanding of the county’s infrastructure issues, put them into context and assess state level opportunities. It was determined that Connecticut’s need is $85 billion over 20 years to maintain, repair and enhance existing systems, add capacity and expand services, and transform the key systems of transportation, energy and broadband.
The challenge is that they won’t be able to raise more than half of those funds through state funding and anticipated federal appropriations. To fill the gap, Connecticut will actively support all existing funding sources for infrastructure, support a national infrastructure bank, and explore state-level mechanisms to leverage public-private partnerships and improve how projects are selected.
Chris Bruhl, BCFC’s president and CEO, says BCFC’s relationship with author and New York University Senior Fellow Michael Likosky has helped with the council’s involvement in federal funding discussions. Likosky is an expert on public-private partnerships, has served on the BCFC stakeholder group, advised a number of states, elected officials and organizations, and is the author of Obama’s Bank: Financing a Durable New Deal, among other titles. Because of Likosky’s role with BCFC and other organizations, BCFC has been invited to participate in a national infrastructure bank think tank. BCFC also has found that this new area of policy involvement has generated a new membership stream for the chamber: companies that have interest or experience with infrastructure issues.
BCFC has been supportive of Connecticut’s Green Bank to leverage private sector investment in clean energy. The group also has a good relationship with the governor that has led to a senior staffer being appointed co-chair of the governor’s panel to deal with response to the tropical storm and snow storm that hit Connecticut with disastrous result in 2011. Gov. Dannel Malloy has been receptive to the council’s suggestions, and the council has been encouraged by his willingness to try new things. While it doesn’t necessarily mean that all plans will come to fruition, they are encouraged that Connecticut is becoming competitive.
Private money will be raised and invested, and if we didn’t act now, Connecticut could be left out. – Chris Bruhl, BCFC President & CEO
Tags: infrastructure infrastructure transportation transportation funding
Infrastructure Part 1: Louisville
Chaaron Pearson on Friday, November 16, 2012 at 12:00:00 am Comments (0)
Federal dollars are still flowing to states for infrastructure projects, but there’s not enough money to keep up with needed infrastructure expansion. Knowing the impact that transportation has on attracting new business to communities, chambers are seeking infrastructure project funding through alternate strategies such as new taxes, partnering with neighboring states or working with public and private partnerships.
Infrastructure is critical to economic competitiveness says Business Council of Fairfield County President, Chris Bruhl. As economic development becomes more ingrained in the chamber’s mission, chambers must step in to help solve regional infrastructure problems. Some chambers have tackled this challenge in unusual yet instructive ways.
Louisville, Ky.: Two Bridges and Two States
Louisville is a major transportation hub, with three interstates—I64, I-65 and the terminus of I71—converging downtown near the Ohio River. Logistics, distribution and manufacturing are key economic development sectors for the region, and each depends on safe and reliable bridges and a connecting highway network. But Louisville is currently served by only three Ohio River bridges that are near or over capacity, creating congestion and safety issues.
In 2003, after more than 450 public meetings and a five-year study, the federal government recommended two new bridges and reconstruction of a major interchange known as Spaghetti Junction to address the region’s current and future cross-river transportation needs.
Almost immediately, the project stalled because costs had ballooned to $4.1 billion. Nearly nine years later, a scaled back project that includes all the original major elements is on a fast track to construction. The recent progress is largely the result of strong support, perseverance and creative direction from business, community and political leaders.
Under the 2003 Bridges Project plan, Kentucky was to pay 70 percent of the cost and Indiana was to cover the rest. Relying on traditional highway funding generated from gas taxes, Kentucky’s Transportation Cabinet estimated 20 years for project completion, but long before that the project would absorb more than half of the state’s available road transportation funds—a politically unpopular option.
By 2007, with no definitive construction plan, business leaders stepped in, forming the Bridges Coalition, a bi-state advocacy group. Led by Greater Louisville Inc. (the metro chamber of commerce) and One Southern Indiana (Southern Indiana’s chamber of commerce), the coalition united business, labor and bi-partisan government leaders from both sides of the river. Nearly $2 million was raised to support the coalition’s work. Employing communications and legislative strategies, the coalition touted the project’s benefits of reduced congestion, improved safety and job creation, both during construction and after completion.
After three years of coalition work, a milestone was reached with passage of Kentucky legislation that allowed the use of tolls as a potential funding source for the project and the creation of a bi-state Bridges Authority to develop a project financing plan.
In 2011, Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear, Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels and Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer—all strong project supporters—agreed to a revised project design and accelerated construction timetable that reduced the $4.1 billion price tag to $2.6 billion. The governors also agreed to split the cost of the project more evenly. Kentucky would be responsible for the new downtown bridge and approaches including Spaghetti Junction, and Indiana would oversee construction of the East End span and approaches. This modification allowed each state to pursue its preferred financing method for its part of the construction.
Earlier this year, the two states approved the project’s finance plan. Electronic high-speed tolls on the two new bridges and the existing I-65 span will cover about half the cost of the project. (Federal law currently prohibits tolling on existing interstates. Kentucky and Indiana have applied for a waiver to allow tolling on the existing I-65 bridge as part of the project.) The remaining $1.3 billion will come from each state’s traditional highway funds. In June the Federal Highway Administration approved the plan. Construction is slated to begin in 2013.
Carmen Hickerson, V.P. of public affairs and communications at Greater Louisville Inc., says creative funding for major highway projects is a must in today’s economic environment of limited federal funding. Large projects like these are increasingly difficult to fund without the inclusion of user fees. The Ohio River Bridges Project fortunately had two governors and a mayor who were willing to work together to find a solution. Through determination and partnership, Kentucky and Indiana overcame challenges and cleared the path for improved transportation for the region.
Tags: infrastructure, infrastructure transportation, Louisville, transportation, funding