Training Institute Brings Seminars to 1,000-Plus in L.A

Article excerpt

As a part of their Congress of Cities experience, 1,306 city officials attended Leadership Training Institute seminars. These sessions are targeted to strengthen local government leadership through interactive sessions that provide participants with an in-depth learning experience. Nineteen sessions were available in Los Angeles covering a range of topics including ethics, municipal finance, violence prevention, economic development and leading change.

New Responsibilities for Local Elected Officials Under the Workforce Investment Act

Trainer Lori Strumpf of the Center for Strategic Change emphasized that the rapidly changing economy and workplace require high quality people who must access, retain and keep pace with the lifelong learning required to stay employed. The new Workforce Investment Act (WIA) takes effect in all states in July 2000 and will challenge city officials to think differently -- more strategically -- about planning for workforce and economic development.

There are numerous instances where regional solutions must be sought. For example, there will no longer be separate funding every year for summer youth employment. Local workforce boards will receive a single grant for youth employment activities. It will be up to the local officials, working with their workforce boards and youth councils, to decide how to allocate the funds between summer and year-round programs. The Act requires that in cases where several cities, towns and counties make up a single workforce investment area, all the chief local elected officials have to develop an "interlocal" agreement that spells out roles for making board appointments, negotiating local performance standards, etc.

Many of the participants were surprised to hear about WIA's requirement to develop interlocal agreements. By the end of the session, quite a few officials were preparing to return and find out What is happening in their state with the planning process. A number of the officials were from cities where the county governments take the lead in programs and services related to job training. The Workforce Investment Act changes the picture -- giving local elected officials an expanded opportunity to play more of a leadership role in planning for workforce and economic development.

Economic Development Tools for Local Government

This session was presented by the Council for Urban Economic Development and included a number of local elected officials. Councilmember Kay Alexander from Abilene, Tex., presented participants with a "case study" exercise that incorporated a lot of the issues raised throughout the seminar -- use of public versus private dollars to finance downtown development and how to most effectively deal with concerns raised by neighborhood groups.

Mayor Ron Loveridge of Riverside, Calif., said, "... you need reality checks on what you are doing. You need to bring City Hall into the community." Mayor Loveridge described his Mayor's Business Visits and Mayor's Day Out. Every Wednesday he spends 2 hours visiting a local company. He is often accompanied by city department heads and non-city leaders (e.g., Chamber of Commerce). He listens to the issues and concerns of company officials and follows-up through city staff. The mayor's outreach efforts include tours of one of the city's 26 neighborhoods, visits to area schools, and hosting lunches for neighborhood leaders. …