Rebuilding Place in the Urban Space

"A community’s physical form, rather than its land uses, is its most intrinsic and enduring characteristic." [Katz, EPA] This blog focuses on place and placemaking and all that makes it work--historic preservation, urban design, transportation, asset-based community development, arts & cultural development, commercial district revitalization, tourism & destination development, and quality of life advocacy--along with doses of civic engagement and good governance watchdogging.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Collaboration across jurisdictional boundaries

I have written quite a bit over the years about how, because of financial exigency, communities in states like California, Ohio, Michigan, and New Jersey are merging services across borders, for example sharing fire services, library services, etc.

And some government agencies like the Information Technology division of Oakland County Michigan are selling their services to other communities, just like how the big IT firms do.

A couple months back, there was an interesting article in the Kansas City Star, "KC, Omaha, Des Moines and St. Louis promote mutual interests," about how four midwestern cities of have banded together, to ward off being left behind, in development trends that otherwise favor the east and west coasts. From the article:

All four Midwest metros are in jeopardy of being left behind in a global economy dominated by mega-regions with more than 10 million people, according to the Greater Kansas City Civic Council.

That’s why the Civic Council, an organization of top corporate executives, has been working quietly with its peers in other communities on an initiative called the Heartland Civic Collaborative. Its goal is to find ways the four metros can work together and bulk up to promote their mutual interests.

Call it a sort of mini-mega-region.

“Everyone understands we’ll be competitive on some issues,” said Bill Berkley, CEO of Kansas City envelope manufacturer Tension Corp. and chairman of the Heartland initiative. “But there are critical issues that if we work together, we’ll be more effective.”

Aided by the Washington-based Brookings Metropolitan Policy Program, top civic leaders from all four communities have met several times over the past year to discuss common interests and map out a strategy for moving forward.

They’ve identified four key areas: transportation, water, life sciences and connecting their entrepreneurial communities.

“The idea is to develop the brand, back it up with facts and figures, and then promote it,” said David Brown, president and CEO of the Greater Omaha Chamber of Commerce.

And Kansas City Kansas and Kansas City Missouri are cooperating on the deployment by Google of a high speed computing network platform that serves both.  See "Nice change of pace: Cities cooperating" from the Kansas City Star. (Although the Star also criticizes the competition between Kansas and Missouri for business recruitment, which mostly involves tax incentives--"The Kansas-Missouri border war bleeds millions from taxpayers.")

Another example is how suburban jurisdictions in Chicago have joined together to seek and expend funds to deal with properties that are vacant as a result of foreclosure.  See "Suburbs collaborate to rehab abandoned and foreclosed housing" from the Chicago Sun-Times.  Communities in western and southern Cook County have received a total of $35 million.  Money that will come in from the sale of properties (mostly, the cost of rehabbing the properties will be greater than the sale price) will be put toward other building rehab projects.

Plus, there is a school district in New Hampshire that has sent its junior and senior high school aged children to a neighboring district.  But now, they have received approval from the State Department of Education to send their children to the school district abutting the town, but across the state border in Maine.  See the Associated Press story " NH communities ponder sending students to Maine."

Finally, there is the discussion about extending the New York City 7 Subway line to Secaucus Junction in Greater Hoboken.  That's not unprecedented, for example, the SEPTA regional rail system connects to locations in New Jersey and Delaware too, not just Philadelphia, but it is still interesting.  See "7 to Secaucus? That's a Plan from the New York Times."  Although the MTA, a state agency, doesn't seem to be as interested as the New York City government.  See "Lhota: The 7 train to Secaucus is arriving never" from Capital New York.

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