Regional/Greater Community Development News – October 15, 2012

    Multi-jurisdictional intentional regional communities are, in all cases, “Greater Communities” where “community motive” is at work at a more than a local scale. This newsletter provides a scan of regional community, cooperation and collaboration activity as reported in news media and blogs.
Top 10 Stories
In the wake of the TSPLOST’s overwhelming defeat, Atlanta Regional Commission Chairman Tad Leithead called on metro leaders to unite with a new vision that would propel the region to a place of prosperity over the next 50 years.
Leithead made his remarks during the ARC’s 2012 State of the Region Breakfast held at the Georgia World Congress Center on Friday.
“I will tell you — and no one in this room will be surprised — that since July 31 many of you in this room and virtually everyone I have talked to, they have walked up to me and said, ‘What do we do now?’ They have said, ‘Does it make sense for us to continue to work together as a region?’ They have said, ‘Are we doomed in this region to mediocrity? Did we miss our last big chance? We tried something huge and it failed. Are we doomed to mediocrity?’ And they have asked, ‘Is there any chance? Do we still have a shot at excellence, the excellence that we have come to expect in the Atlanta region?’”
Leithead, who said he was there “to talk to 1,000 of my closest friends,” said he mulled and stressed over those questions.
Lacing his address with quotes from Abraham Lincoln, Leithead proposed a vision of what he’d like to see the region look like 50 years from now. The region would have about 10 million people, have clean and plentiful water and not have a traffic problem, with residents having access to a variety of transportation options.
Many of us involved in the creation or advocacy of “sustainable” cities, neighborhoods and metro regions know what we’re mostly for.  That would be communities that:
·         Grow first within the existing development footprint, taking advantage of existing public infrastructure
·         Integrate functional green space for air, light, recreation, beauty, and stormwater management 
·         Improve public transit, bike accessibility and walkability
·         Encourage a healthy mix of land uses and activities – and  
·         Embrace a somewhat higher (though not necessarily high, depending upon location) residential and commercial density. 
And we also know what we’re mostly against.  That would be:
·         Development that gobbles up working lands and open space, ever-outward in pods of self-replicating sprawl
·         Otherwise “urban” and urbanizing development that wastes opportunities to grow in their communities’ central places – and
·         Towns and cities that fail to invest in up-to-date infrastructure that encourages sensitive revitalization, uses environmental resources efficiently, permits fast internet services, or that would, with a bit of foresight, allow public transit to expand and walking and biking to thrive.
Suburban preferences are real, if also sometimes elusive
The problem is this:  how do we get to the “promised land” of the first set of characteristics, and avoid the second, especially in the suburbs?
There are literally dozens of ways to map the same community — and dozens more ways to link seemingly disparate communities by their similarities or shared concerns.
How do you reconcile the priorities of a homeowner with a developer, a historian with an established business owner, an environmentalist with a government bureaucracy? Digital maps, compiled with geographic information systems, are able to communicate more than meets the eye at first glance. The issue is getting through the layers to the heart of the matter.
Helping this to happen is what the Central Massachusetts Regional Planning Commission is all about. From its offices at Union Station, the quasi-public agency, founded in 1963, attempts every day to reconcile these competing interests with facts that are often buried, like treasure, in layers of data.
“It can make your head explode thinking about all these other ways to think about your town,” said Vera Kolias, a principal planner at CMRPC. “Our function is to facilitate the planning process while providing all of this data from all parties and showing connections between them. Can we connect communities together with shared priority areas?”
The agency is one of 13 regional planning agencies in Massachusetts. Each of the agencies is entrusted with helping the communities within their mandate to manage their development and preservation priorities.
The Northern Sacramento Valley Integrated Regional Water Management Plan Board is asking organizations to submit proposed projects and programs for review and possible inclusion in the North Sacramento Valley Integrated Regional Water Management Plan.
This step is part of the plan's development process.
The Northern Sacramento Valley Integrated Regional Water Management Plan is an effort involving six counties in the North State to address water-related issues and develop a regional plan. Counties involved in this project include Butte, Colusa, Glenn, Tehama, Shasta, and Sutter.
Factors to be integrated into the plan include economic health and vitality, water supply reliability, management of flood and stormwater, water quality improvements, and ecosystem protection and enhancement.
The goal is to develop the plan by September 2013.
Representatives of the six counties are working in partnership with community stakeholders, tribes and the public to identify the water-related needs…
It’s been a source of bricks-and-mortar development, a vital part of the Upstate’s economic development and an integral part of the region’s transportation system.
Yet, it’s also placed between Charlotte and Atlanta, two aviation powerhouses that in the past have siphoned its air passenger traffic. It also has generated sweaty palms as efforts to lure Southwest Airlines, and hopes of lower airfares, ebbed and flowed for years.

One of the state’s largest success stories — BMW’s decision 20 years ago to locate the German company’s North American auto assembly plant in the Upstate — is more than partially tied to GSP.
The airport was a key piece, along with the Port of Charleston and other facilities, in BMW’s perception of where to locate the plant, which now thrives in Greer, said South Carolina Commerce Secretary Bobby Hitt.
The company wanted “redundant systems” for parts distribution to alleviate concerns about its ability to succeed in the U.S., said Hitt, former manager...
The Massachusetts Office of Business Development has awarded $100,000 to the SouthCoast Development Partnership as part of $950,000 in grants for regional economic development organizations throughout the state.
Anchored at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, which lends staff support to the group, the SouthCoast Development Partnership helps coordinate regional economic development, according to Paul Vigeant, the university's assistant chancellor for economic development.
Members of the steering committee include mayors of New Bedford and Fall River, legislators and representatives from the New Bedford Economic Development Council and the Fall River Office of Economic Development.
"This grant is to help promote the region as a desirable location for business investment. We use it to brand the region as the SouthCoast," Vigeant said. "We are focused on trying to attract very high-tech sectors down here," ranging from biotechnology to marine science...
A growing number of companies have recognized the financial, operational and strategic advantages of implementing sustainability practices – enhanced focus on outstanding environmental, social and financial performance – within their organizations. But there are still many businesses of all sizes that have not yet begun to incorporate sustainability steps, or that have done so only sparingly. Such companies are missing out on chances to reduce business risk and improve business financial performance and strategic position.
The companies that are leading the way in obtaining the greatest business value from their sustainability programs are those that recognize that, for the 21st century company, sustainability is just as mission-critical as any other vital function, such as quality, customer service or employee safety. The function and practice that sustainability has the most in common with is quality, and in many ways, the phrase, “sustainability is the new quality” captures the importance of sustainability for the company that wants to thrive in the 21st century.
Here are the key similarities and reasons why the wise, proactive company should view sustainability as being just as critical to near- and long-term success as a focus on quality:
Both have gone through a historical and conceptual progression from passive reactivity to proactive, strategic integration ...
Joined-up thinking. Collaboration. Cooperation. These are the buzz words of 2012, but few companies – or countries – truly put them into action.
Not so in the Netherlands. The Loadstar has often mentioned the enviable logistics strategy of this small trading nation, and it never ceases to impress. And it has lessons that could be learned by others throughout the global industry.
The latest example of common sense and pragmatism is from Schiphol Airport. For readers that don’t know well the typical marketing strategy of airports, it’s this: a map, with the airport right in the middle, showing how central the location is. It is always about the location – and when things don’t go well, airports tend to blame their geography…
The people of Amsterdam, though, don’t seem to feel the same way. If the trade lanes aren’t there, they create one. And that is what they are doing with their new pharmaceutical strategy…a coordinated strategy to improve the pharma-logistics trade in the region.
Successive governments have started to grasp what we in Greater Manchester, and our colleagues in England's other core cities, have been arguing forcibly for some time: cities are crucial engines of economic growth with the capacity to help rebalance the nation's economy by acting as a counterweight to London and the south east.
We have long maintained that many of the issues which shape the success of our area including transport, housing, economic development, skills and job creation, are best addressed at a city regional level.
It's fair to say that devolution, localism - call it what you will - is an idea whose time has come. In Greater Manchester, we welcomed the current government's appointment of a minister for cities and its increasing recognition of the role of cities.
Because of the mature and long-standing collaborative relationship between the ten Greater Manchester authorities - transcending political differences to focus on economic priorities - we were well positioned to respond to this new climate.
The establishment in April 2011 of the Greater Manchester Combined Authority, the first of its kind in the country, took this co-operation to a new level and put it on a statutory footing. Working alongside other Greater Manchester-wide bodies such as Transport for Greater Manchester and the Local Enterprise Partnership, we have much greater scope to plan for growth.
The vulnerability of cities and suburbs in the post-petroleum era has been the object of much debate because their present organization makes their operation so energy-intensive. The debate heretofore has tended to swing between two extremes. One claims that these forms of social organization on the land are so unsustainable that their populations will be forced to abandon them gradually as the energy descent progresses.
James Kunstler, a well-known critic of the kind of cities and suburbs that have emerged in recent decades, puts it bluntly:
The whole suburban project I think can be summarized pretty succinctly as the greatest misallocation of resources in the history of the world. America took all of its post-war wealth and invested it in a living arrangement that has no future.
The other extreme entertains dreams of massive programs of public transportation to save suburbia. It also relies heavily on technologies like high-rise agriculture and on the efficiencies of population...
It is a general rule of life that the longer a document is, the less it matters. I have just read all 1,374 pages of the Strategic Environmental Assessment for the revocation of the South East Plan, published last week. Does this document matter? Not one jot, except for one important lesson, which I’ll come to in a moment.
Everything regional is out of favour at the moment. Quite rightly, too. When I lived in Oxfordshire I did not feel that I belonged to “the South East”. Now I live in Shropshire, I do not for a moment consider that I am part of “the West Midlands”. Regional government has, thankfully, had a brief life. John Major launched the Government Offices of the Regions in 1994. John Prescott added the Regional Development Agencies and the Regional Assemblies in 1998. Now the assemblies, agencies and offices are no more.
All of this would be nothing more than a footnote in history if it were not for one lingering legacy of regionalisation – regional strategies. …
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