Magazine article Nation's Cities Weekly

CED Committee to Explore Policy Changes That Reflect Information Age Impact on Economic Development

Magazine article Nation's Cities Weekly

CED Committee to Explore Policy Changes That Reflect Information Age Impact on Economic Development

Article excerpt

Technology research and development and its related industry clusters are driving local and national economic growth. New CED policy language that captures this development and outlines suggestions for federal involvement and local action will be debated in December during the Congress of Cities.

At its Fall meeting last weekend, CED steering committee members, led by Chair Robin Parker, councilmember, Sunnyvale, Calif., welcomed NLC's First Vice President Brian O'Neill, councilmember, Philadelphia, who participated in the meeting. The meeting was hosted by councilmember John Maxwell of Myrtle Beach, S.C.

An Emerging Trend

"Many of us who represent cities with a strong concentration of R&D-related companies and government facilities see first-hand how this industry cluster's growth is helping local economies," noted Chair Parker. The proposed policy language acknowledges R&D's growing importance to local economic development strategies, and suggests ways for the federal government to help. It also urges more local involvement in state and federal efforts to develop national R&D policies. Additionally, the draft language:

* Supports local use of public funds like CDBG money or pension funds as seed capital for R&D industries that, in turn, will help grow local economic regions.

* Supports national policies to ensure equal access to education and training opportunities for anyone who seeks the necessary skills to work in this industry cluster.

Other economic development policy modifications that will be forwarded to Philadelphia include:

* Language that emphasizes the importance to cities from developing a strategic plan for economic development.

* Language that opposes granting federal money to recipients who use it to promote "smokestack chasing" strategies to entice firms to re-locate from one area to another.

* Language that urges the federal government to develop and use improved statistical tools to measure economic conditions in local regions.

Economics of the U.S. Postal Service

The steering committee also voted to strengthen NLC's current policy position that the U.S. Postal Service ("USPS") comply with local land use and zoning regulations. At the request of the Georgia and Oregon state municipal leagues, the new language appeals for an early local role in the decision-making process to relocate, consolidate, or close a postal facility. Committee members were careful to point out that the revised language targets local participation at the earliest possible point. It does not demand federal preemption of the quasi-private USPS's decision-making authority over its facilities.

Several Georgia cities reported having their post offices relocated to suburban locations, and Georgia Municipal Association officials allege this is a nationwide trend that can damage the social and economic vitality of downtown areas. …

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