The White House’s Legislative Outline for Rebuilding Infrastructure in America, which was released early this year, outlines the President’s proposed steps to encourage increased State, local, and private investment in infrastructure. And though you’ve probably heard a lot about it, chances are you haven’t had the time to read and reflect on the 55 page document. So what might the President’s plan mean for infrastructure in your community? While the plan outlines programs for infrastructure of all sectors, this post provides a quick overview of the 4 proposed programs with relevance to water infrastructure.
In September, my colleague Glenn Barnes shared resources from EPA on “smart growth” economic development. This approach to economic develop helps protect human health and the natural environment, while making communities more attractive, economically stronger, and more socially diverse. Smart Growth can take many different forms, from planning and zoning ordinances, to green infrastructure plans, to farmland protection initiatives. While the Smart Growth Program has been successfully implemented in cities and towns throughout the country, it has also had an impact right here in North Carolina. What are our neighbors in NC doing to promote Smart Growth principles? Read on for two examples.
This April, the North Carolina Department of the State Treasurer hosted a conference on “Sparking Sustainability and Innovation: Together, Let’s Build a Stronger Future”. The conference was designed to foster discussion around how innovation and sustainability are integral to creating and maintaining long-term stability for North Carolina communities. Successful economic development initiatives often rely on and are strengthened by vibrant, innovative, and sustainable communities, so this conference was aimed at sharing strategies, success stories, and identifying challenges and opportunities for North Carolina local governments.
Over the last several decades, the economy of North Carolina has undergone major transitions. Once home to thriving tobacco, furniture, and textile industries, we’re seeing more and more emphasis on high tech solutions to modern problems. We’re now a state of leaders in technology, education, manufacturing, green industry, and health care. Of course we’re not alone in this transition, as many communities are experiencing a decline in manufacturing and other once strong industries. In previous posts, my colleagues have written extensively on how water plays an important part in community economic development. But what role does water play in a transitioning economy?
A central tenet of community economic development is the belief that in fostering a healthy economy, we are working towards building healthy, vibrant communities. But many would contend that a healthy economy is only one piece of the puzzle. Local governments are increasingly paying attention to other elements of community development work in order to build healthy communities, realizing that they cannot foster a strong economy in isolation from social and environmental factors. One approach to development that addresses these issues is the “triple bottom line”, a method that integrates three dimensions of performance: social, environmental, and financial. Under the triple bottom line approach, growth and development should consider not only economic factors, but also social and environmental impacts of any initiative.
The triple bottom line framework has been adopted and championed by a wide variety of actors, including large corporations, community based nonprofit organizations, environmental groups, and international development agencies. Experts say that triple bottom line sustainability is most achievable at the regional and local scale, so it seems natural that local governments would adopt this approach in their economic development efforts. But what strategies can local governments in North Carolina use to foster triple bottom line impacts?
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