Regional/Greater Community Development News – October 22, 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.
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The president of the American Planning Association, Mitchell Silver, was here last week for his organization’s regional conference. But according to his forecast of where the country’s going, he was visiting the land that’s being left behind.
Silver, who honed his planning chops in New York and Washington before becoming the chief planning an economic development officer for Raleigh, N.C., certainly didn’t insult his hosts at the 2012 KS/MO Bi-state Conference and the 300 folks in the audience from a four-state region that included Iowa and Nebraska.
He let his Power Point presentation do the talking.
Silver projected the major job growth will be concentrated in 11 “mega-regions” by 2050. Kansas City and other metros in the middle of the country weren’t among them.
The closest mega-regions were called the Great Lakes centered on Chicago, the Front Range anchored by Denver, and the Texas Triangle encompassing Dallas, Austin and Houston.
Kansas City also didn’t make a list of promising metros that Silver divided into three categories: international hubs; creative and nimble; and comeback kids. Minneapolis-St. Paul was in the creative and nimble group, the sole regional metro to make the list.
The antidote for a greater Kansas City suggested by Silver is something we’ve all heard before.
“The future of the country is the metropolitan economy,” he said. “You must compete as a region, not Kansas City, Missouri or Kansas.
“People will pass you over and you’ll just trade jobs.”
Last week, I got a shot of hope.
It happens so infrequently that I had to lie down for a while to recover.
The event that produced this strange reaction was a "press familiarization tour" to highlight the wonders of "St. Paul on the Move." It was sponsored by the Minneapolis Saint Paul Regional Economic Development Partnership, which calls itself Greater MSP. The mission of this 18-month-old chamber-of-commerce-like group is to sell companies on locating in the 13-county metro (and incidentally hiring lots of people).
In the interest of transparency, I feel compelled to inform readers that MSP paid for my lunch at Muffuletta ($8.95 plus coffee, tax and tip), hauled me and other ink-stained wretches around in a minivan and gave us each a free notebook. I don't think any of that, however, was responsible for most of my positivity.
Meanwhile, back at the tour. Over cups of Caribou (I forgot about them -- add $2), Doug Baker, MSP's chair and CEO of Ecolab, a St. Paul water-safety company, gave us the pitch. Instead of having every city in the metro compete for businesses, MSP plans to brand and market the entire region on the theory that a corporation moving to Belle Plaine indirectly benefits people in Brooklyn Center or Eden Prairie. But Baker is also a big downtown booster. "If you give up on the center, you give up on the whole community," he said.
That statement alone evoked Surge of Optimism #1. Why? Because any number of people kiss off our two core cities as though they are the geographic version of the buggy whip. Typical example from some recent Internet postings: "When will Minneapolis -- and St. Paul -- acknowledge that the pre-WWII model of downtown is DEAD?" It was good to hear from a captain of technology that he thinks the center (or in this case, centers) can -- and must -- hold.
Surge of Optimism #2 came with a visit to the offices of the Met Council where Mark Fuhrmann, the manager of all the light rail programs, gave us a rundown on the 18 stations of the Central Corridor LRT due to begin operations in 2014.
… Institute planners emphasized four key considerations in shaping the framework of the Rural Futures Institute:
1.       Transdisciplinary work is essential. To be successful, the Institute will have to transcend traditional boundaries of academic disciplines while respecting the expertise specific disciplines contribute.
2.      Innovation and entrepreneurship are crucial. This goes beyond private sector business considerations. The Institute should attempt to draw from the region’s long history of innovative thinking to leverage further creativity and entrepreneurial activity throughout the region, as well as within the University itself.
3.      It is more than economics. Health care, education, civic culture, and the arts are critical elements of community life and must be part of the fabric of the Institute, even though they often cannot be measured or justified in a strictly economic context.
4.      Deep collaborations are a foundational element. Despite challenges associated with institutional collaborations, the Rural Futures Institute will succeed only if it can foster and engage in meaningful partnerships within the University and with the many non-academic stakeholders in the nonprofit, government, and private sectors that have resources and expertise to contribute to the issues at hand.”

 — Promoters of economic growth along the California-Mexico border on Monday unveiled their newest push to bring investments and jobs to the region: a binational, online map.
Developers of the asset map hope it will send a powerful message to the world about offerings in what’s called the Cali Baja Bi-National Mega-Region, from manufacturing know-how to integrated supply chains to a skilled labor force. They aim to jointly showcase Baja California and San Diego and Imperial counties, an area of nearly 29,000 square miles with a combined annual gross domestic product of $202.4 billion and a labor force of 3.1 million, according to the San Diego Regional Economic Development Corporation.
The map, which is displayed at, shows “we are stronger together than we are just by ourselves,” said Christina Luhn, director of the Mega-Region Initiative for the EDC. “This puts us on the map in a different way.”
Introduction and summary

America’s energy future is at a crossroads. Everyone can agree that we must reduce our dependence on foreign oil while strengthening our economy and creating jobs. But how do we get there?
In contrast, the vision for America presented by the American Petroleum Institute and its supporters in Washington and across the country embraces a “drill-here, drill-now” agenda without regard to the long-term economic and environmental consequences or to the specific needs of America’s diverse regional economies. It ultimately is a shortsighted strategy that will not work. Diversifying away from these fossil fuels is an urgent and essential step to ensuring our long-term climate stability and economic competitiveness.

This report focuses on non-fossil-fuel-driven economic development strategies in six major regions of the country. Specifically:
§  Offshore wind on the Atlantic Coast
§  Coastal restoration in the Gulf Coast
§  Energy efficiency in the Southeast
§  Advanced vehicles in the Midwest
§  Wind power and solar power development and distribution in the Mountain West
§  Solar power innovation and installation on the Pacific Coast
A month or so ago, hundreds of people packed into the Lyceum at East Mississippi Community College's Mayhew campus for the unveiling of what we now know as the Golden Triangle Regional Development Authority.
With great fanfare, the new group's steering committee, under the guidance of Columbus-Lowndes Development Link CEO Joe Max Higgins, presented its plans before an appreciative audience.
It was pretty obvious from the presentation that the group had meticulous plans for how the new economic development partnership would be created. Among the material was an implementation schedule, something Higgins took great care to explain. The project that began in September would culminate with a fully-functional GTRDA in October 2014.
One of the first things on the schedule was obtaining contracts from Oktibbeha County/Starkville, similar to the one in place between the Link and the West Point Growth Alliance. During the presentation, and in subsequent public comments, this first step seemed to be little more than a formality.
While there is nothing to suggest that Oktibbeha County and Starkville will decline to sign on -- killing the plan before it really started -- there are some indications that getting that approval may take some doing.
From 1989 to 1999, I worked for a newspaper in Lakeville, a fourth tier suburb of Minneapolis, MN that grew from a population of 24,000 when I started, to more than 43,000 by the time I left. 
I was thinking about Lakeville as I watched "The New Metropolis," a documentary shown…at the Farmington Civic Theater. The event, organized by the Multiracial Multicultural Community Council, included a panel discussion with local and state officials. 
The Twin Cities metropolitan area was held up as a model of regionalism, and that resonated with me. I recall writing about the city's growing pains, major school boundary adjustments, massive voter-approved construction projects. And city officials worked closely with the Metropolitan Council, a regional planning agency that coordinates planning and development in the 7-county, Twin Cities metropolitan area.
What city government, school officials and regional planners couldn't do was help people come to terms with the increasing diversity…
Yesterday’s regional elections in Spain’s Basque region have demonstrated again the strength of blood ties and the resurgence of localism in a time of globalization. People are increasingly seeking protection close to home, an urge that seems light years away from the European Union’s postmodern supranational ambitions.
The good news is that, these days, the push for local autonomy comes without violence. But if the Basque country has moved beyond the separatist terrorism of the ETA, the strong showing by the pro-independence party Bildu means that assertive regionalism now means taking over real political responsibility. It is no longer a game or a claim without consequences, where being “against” the central power is the only goal and thus sufficient.
… The question is whether the Basques, and Spain’s Catalonians, who are also pushing for a referendum on independence, know it. What drives the recent Catalonian claims for independence is the feeling that the region is oppressed by Madrid, in particular that it pays much too much in taxes to a dysfunctional central government, which then redistributes the region’s wealth to the rest of the country. Catalonians would be better off, they think, if they were to leave the Spanish state.
In this, the Catalonians join a growing club of wealthier regions across the EU that want to quit their nation states in order to escape financial transfers and solidarity with the poorer parts of their respective countries. “Bavaria Can Go It Alone” is the title of a recent book from an influential Bavarian politician, who argues that the time has come for Bavaria to stop paying 15 percent of its tax revenue to the German federal government. Italy’s Lega Nord, rooted in prosperous Northern Italy, ...
The Commerce Ministry may seek funding from the Asia Cooperation Dialogue (ACD) to build a large rice silo in a move to establish Thailand as a food stockpiler for the world.
Commerce Minister Boonsong Teriyapirom said Thailand is in a very good position to become a stockpiler that can ensure the world's food security.
Food security was highlighted at a recent ACD summit in Kuwait.
The ACD was created in 2002 to promote Asian cooperation at a continental level and to help integrate regional cooperation among organisations such as Asean, the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC).
The ACD was founded by 18 members and now comprises 31 states including all Asean and GCC members. It covers 60% of the world's population.
At the summit, Kuwait proposed setting up a US$2-billion development fund for members under the ACD framework by initially offering seed money of $300 million through the Asian Development Bank.
Mr Boonsong said Thailand is interested in securing that fund to create food security for Thailand and the world.
"Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra has assigned the Commerce, Industry and Foreign ministries to monitor the fund closely in order to determine how Thailand can secure finance for a large rice silo that can stock rice for seven or eight years," he said.
Sustainable business is not only essential to the future of Alpine mountain regions, but it helps businesses prosper, is the message from theALPS 2012 conference held earlier this month in Innsbruck, Austria.
"Tourism has entered the sustainability debate at a relatively late stage," said Dr Franz Fischler, former EU Agriculture Commissioner and now President of the European Forum Alpbach, "but Alpine tourism can be at the vanguard and lead the way,"
Futurologist Peter Wipperman, trend researcher and lecturer in Communication Design at the Folkwang University in Essen, said that from 2009-2011, in the midst of recession, consumers turned to suppliers and business that they had confidence in; in many cases being prepared to pay more for items with strong ethical and sustainable credentials. "You can't buy people's trust," Wipperman said, "and consumers are increasingly asking questions about the people and the values behind the brands: how things are produced, the effects of the environment, and whether employees are happy."
Petra Stolba, Managing Director of Österreich Werbung, is convinced: "Sustainability must be a core value in tourism and thus an essential component of our key business and may under no circumstances be misused just for marketing purposes."
Fischler agrees, stating: "Tourism can only be sustainable when its institutions are sustainable. It shouldn't really be that difficult to create appropriate quality criteria and to apply the subsequent advantages in marketing as well.'
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