economic development

Laura Brown Receives CEDAS Member of the Year Award

Laura Brown receiving the award with CEDAS President and CEO of the Greater New haven Chamber of Commerce, Garret Sheehan.
Laura Brown receiving the award with CEDAS President and CEO of the Greater New haven Chamber of Commerce, Garret Sheehan.

Last week, Extension educator Laura Brown received the Connecticut Economic Development Association (CEDAS) Member of the Year Award at the CEDAS Annual meeting.

The award recognized her role in the CEDAS program committee including the successful CEDAS Academy webinar series’ and coordination the newly launched Best Practices in Land Use and Economic Development program.  Laura is also a member of the CEDAS board.

According to the CEDAS website, the Member of the Year Award recognizes the best of Connecticut in economic development annually by recognizing a CEDAS member who has exhibited true leadership in economic development in Connecticut and has implemented an initiative that demonstrates real results and outcomes in the past year. Past awardees have been individuals, teams and/or organizations. As such, they may consist of volunteers, practitioners, educators or elected officials and other persons. The event attended by over 100 community leaders, elected officials, planners, & economic developers was held at Boca Oyster Bar at the Steelpoint Development in Bridgeport, CT and featured awards to 24 newly accredited municipalities who received recognition through the Best Practices in Land Use and Economic Development Program. This was a very successful program in which UConn played a pivotal role and has already received national attention.

CEDAS Recognizes Municipalities’ ‘Best Practices Policies’

city street in Connecticut
Photo: CEDAS

CEDAS ISSUES ‘BEST PRACTICES IN LAND USE AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT’ ACCREDITATION TO TWENTY-FOUR CONNECTICUT COMMUNITIES

The Connecticut Economic Development Association (CEDAS) is proud to announce that it has certified twenty-four Connecticut cities and towns as exemplifying best practices in land use and economic development. These twenty-four communities subjected themselves to a rigorous application review process that required documentation of their procedures for development projects and consideration of their economic development strategy.

This is CEDAS’s first year accrediting communities. The program, presented by sponsors Eversource and UI, was conceived as a way to recognize communities that are committed to doing economic development and at the same time, to raise the bar for excellence in the entire state. Applications were submitted from across Connecticut, with towns and cities showcasing the policies that create efficient economic development processes, target strategic business growth, and implement planning and zoning practices that thoughtfully plan for future population and community-specific needs. The 2019 application cycle opened in June and concluded on September 15th. The expectation is that other communities will follow their lead and take part in next year’s accreditation process.

This year’s certified communities are the:  Town of Bethel, Town of Bolton, City of Bridgeport, Town of Brookfield, Town of Canton, City of Groton, Town of Ellington, Town of Fairfield, Town of Farmington, City of Hartford, Town of Madison, Town of Manchester, City of Milford, City of New Haven, Town of New Milford, Town of Newtown, Town of North Haven, Town of North Stonington, City of Norwich, Town of Portland, Town of Groton, Town of West Hartford, Town of Windham, and Town of Windsor.

Awards will be presented to communities receiving 2019 ‘Best Practices in Economic Development and Land Use Planning’ accreditation at the CEDAS’ Annual Meeting on October 23rd in Bridgeport, Connecticut. This event will celebrate successful applicants, present updates on CEDAS’ activities and growth, and continue the conversation on how ‘Best Practices’ communities can showcase this designation as models for growth and as partners for future investment. To secure tickets please visit www.cedas.org.

“In order for our state to be successful at economic development, we need all levels working together and at the top of their game – local, regional, and state. The communities we are recognizing have shown a commitment to economic development and exemplify that Connecticut is open for business,” said Garrett Sheehan, this year’s President of CEDAS and CEO of the Greater New Haven Chamber of Commerce.  This program was never intended to be a competition, but rather a way to raise our collective standards. I strongly encourage all Connecticut communities to adopt these best practices and apply for next year’s certification.”

“This program was an excellent way to recognize the existing efforts of many communities and provide great examples of best practices for others. It was an amazing collaboration and I was pleased to work on the program” said Laura Brown, UConn Extension and CEDAS Board Member.

The Best Practices program was created as a partnership with Eversource, UI, Pullman & Comley, and STV/DPM to present this accreditation as a catalyst for economic development in Connecticut. Collaborating partners include UConn Extension, the Connecticut Chapter of the American Planning Association, and the Connecticut Economic Resource Center.  Connecticut can celebrate in the fact that it has many communities that are committed to economic development and doing it right.  Staff, volunteers, and elected officials spent hours putting together their applications. Officials and volunteers organizing their community’s application also used this process as a chance to review their current policies and plans for business and community growth and as an opportunity to receive recommendations for updates and future improvements.  According to one applicant “We applied because we do have best practices, but the internal and external dialogues don’t recognize that. This designation helps change the dialogue, and gives us direction on improvements.” The Program review committee also identified initiatives and programs that represent model approaches. These existing programs will be organized to create a resource library of examples for other communities looking for successful examples.

More information about the program is available at https://www.cedas.org/Resources/CT-Best-Practices-In-Land-Use-and-Economic-Development/

CEDAS is a non-profit association of economic development professionals. The organization is managed by an all-volunteer board.  CEDAS works closely with the Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD) and the Connecticut Economic Resource Center (CERC) to foster economic growth in the state. CEDAS focuses networking and training opportunities for its membership.

The Connecticut Economic Development Association congratulates those communities receiving the 2019 ‘Best Practices in Economic Development and Land Use’ accreditation and aims to highlight their success and contributions to promoting Connecticut as a home for future business and community growth.

CEDAS Launches “Best Practices” Accreditation

CONNECTICUT ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT ASSOCIATION WELCOMES CONNECTICUT MUNICIPALITIES TO SHOWCASE ‘BEST PRACTICES’ – LAUNCHES ‘BEST PRACTICES IN LAND USE AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT’ ACCREDITATION

city street in Connecticut
Photo: CEDAS

The Connecticut Economic Development Association (CEDAS) is announcing the launch of the ‘Best Practices in Land Use and Economic Development’ certification to recognize Connecticut municipalities for outstanding land use practices.

In creating this program, CEDAS partnered with sponsors Eversource, UI, CNG, SCG, Pullman & Comley, and STV/DPM to present this accreditation as a strategy for sharing information on planning policies and as a catalyst for economic development in Connecticut. Collaborating partners include the Connecticut Economic Development Association, Connecticut Economic Resource Center, the Connecticut Chapter of the American Planning Association, and UConn Extension.

The Best Practices program provides a tool for planners, economic developers, and community leaders to review their existing strategies for economic development and drives them to pursue creative, community specific practices for encouraging investment and smart planning. “This is a great opportunity for staff, commissioners, and elected officials in every community to improve their effectiveness in economic development by reviewing their existing strategies and understanding what they could improve.” said Garrett Sheehan, President of CEDAS. “We’re interested in giving communities ideas and tools for making improvements that work best for them.”

The program was designed over the past two years with significant input from economic development professionals and planners. According to Kelly Buck, CEDAS Board Member and Co-Chair of the Best Practices Committee “This program is the result of a unique collaboration including a diverse range of partners. We’ve reached out to share the idea with groups like the Connecticut Developers Forum, the Homebuilders and Remodelers Association of Connecticut, and the Connecticut Chapter of the American Planning Association and were very interested in learning from communities presently leading the way.”

Communities who document use of established best practices will be recognized and will receive an award at the CEDAS annual meeting in October, 2019. Applications will be evaluated by a committee of each of CEDAS’ collaborating partners. To demonstrate continuous improvement, applicants may re-submit for recertification every three years and share their successful strategies as models of ‘Best Practices’ for other Connecticut communities. The program will be revised each year to reflect input from communities.

Interested communities can download the application and read more about the program at https://www.cedas.org/Resources/CT-Best-Practices-In-Land-Use-and-Economic-Development/. Applications are due on September 15, 2019. Information and questions about the program may be addressed to cedasprograms@gmail.com

The Connecticut Economic Development Association works closely with the Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD) and the Connecticut Economic Resource Center (CERC) to foster economic growth in the state through its support of legislation, connect planners, policymakers, and community leaders with information on development practices and strategies, and to co-sponsor events to attract businesses and investment to Connecticut. Learn more about CEDAS at www.cedas.org.

CT Trail Census Receives Grant

Naugatuck Greenway
Naugatuck Greenway

Our Connecticut Trail Census program recently received $206,049.50 in grant funding from the Department of Energy & Environmental Protection (DEEP) Trails & Greenways Program and the Connecticut Greenways Council. UConn Extension’s Connecticut Trail Census is a statewide volunteer-based data collection and education program implemented as a pilot from 2016-2018 on 16 multi-use (bicycle, pedestrian, equestrian) trail sites across the state.

Survey on Community Investment in Economic Development

Survey Seeks to Understand How Connecticut’s Communities Invest in Economic Development

By Daniel Case, Grossus [GFDL (https://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html), via Wikimedia Commons
By Daniel Case, Grossus [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html), via Wikimedia Commons
Do you have a hand in economic development for your community or region? This month economic developers across the state will have the opportunity to participate in the first Connecticut Local Economic Survey coordinated by the University of Connecticut (UConn) Extension in partnership with the Connecticut Economic Resource Center (CERC), the Connecticut Economic Development Association (CEDAS) and the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities (CCM). The purpose of the survey is to understand who is involved in economic development activities in Connecticut and how economic development strategies are conducted at the local level over time. Anyone participating in economic development activities at the local, regional or state level is encouraged to participate by visiting the online survey available at http://s.uconn.edu/ledo

According to the developer of the survey, Laura Brown, Community & Economic Development Educator with UConn Extension, the results will be used to help municipalities and organizations identify opportunities to coordinate on regional strategies, make comparable investments in economic development, and implement strategies that are most effective. “This study will help communities see where they stand compared to others in and outside of Connecticut.” The survey includes some questions that are also conducted as part of a national survey implemented by the International City County Management Association every five years.

The results of the study will be made public in Spring 2018, and participants may opt to have the results sent to them as soon as they are available. The survey asks about structure and organization of economic development functions in organizations and municipalities, investments being made in economic development, strategies being implemented and how are they evaluated, and demographic information about economic development staff.

For more information about this survey please contact Laura Brown, Community & Economic Development Educator, UConn Extension, laura.brown@uconn.edu, 203-207-0063.

Understanding the Value of Multi-Use Trails

Article by Laura Brown

Naugatuck Greenway
Naugatuck Greenway

Answering growing demand for alternatives to car based transportation and potential improvements to public health and quality of life, Connecticut has vowed to invest billions of dollars in new transportation infrastructure, including $100 million on pedestrian and bicycle paths[1]. While interest in multi-use trails is growing, they can be expensive to build (estimated $1,000,000 per mile) and community leaders are often asked to quantify the health and quality of life benefits. This was the case for a group of community leaders along the Naugatuck River Greenway (NRG), a proposed 44-mile multi-use trail that will run through eleven communities from Derby to Torrington when fully built. Committee members wanted to know: Who uses trails? How and when do people use trails? How much are people spending when they use the trail? What are other potential economic, public health, and quality of life impacts? What can we learn from other trails in our region? How can the trail support brownfield remediation?

In 2016, UConn Extension Educator Laura Brown partnered with the UConn School of Business Center for Community Economic Analysis, the Naugatuck Valley Council of Governments and the Naugatuck River Greenways Council on a multi-year research project to quantify the potential economic impacts of constructing the NRG, and provide recommendations to municipalities on how to maximize impacts during and after trail construction.

The study involved a literature review, collecting trail count data using infrared counters, a trail user intercept survey on five existing sections of the trail, three focus groups with trail administrators, local business owners, public health professionals along a similar fully built trail, and deployment of a Regional Economic Impact Model (REMI) analysis to estimate total economic impacts of the proposed trail. The analysis included estimates of construction costs, operating expenditures, user amenity benefits, user expenditures, as well as potential impacts on population, employment, income, and fiscal impacts. Reports from the study can be found at http://s.uconn.edu/nrg

The findings of the study showed that this trail, when fully constructed, could have a significant and positive impact on communities in the region. But, those impacts aren’t inevitable even if the trail is built. Trails have to be used, promoted, maintained, and the community, both residents and businesses must be engaged in using and developing the trail. The greatest potential economic impact would result from increased consumer spending by users as well as costs of construction, expansion and maintenance. Currently trail users are spending about $5.8 million annually on items related to trail use (including gear, rentals, clothes, and food) and this could rise to about $85.2 million by 2030 when the trail is fully built. Direct construction expenditures may reach $77.2 million by the year 2030.

Consumer surplus and health benefits also accrued significant economic value over time, including benefits to residents who don’t even use the trail or live in the same zip code as a trailhead. Consumer surplus describes the difference between how much people might be willing to pay to use the trail and how much they actually pay. This includes costs that are avoided like paying for gas to drive to a trailhead or for medical care as a result of health problems. Residents within closest proximity to trailheads and those nearby are expected to realize a combined annual consumer surplus of $13.8 million. That would be expected to rise to about $90.7 million by 2030 when the trail is fully built.

The more people that use the trail, the greater the economic benefit will be. Many users walk or bike on the trail often enough to realize health benefits by reducing incidents of obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, and cancer. The net present monetized value of health-related benefits would be expected to increase from about $10.4 million currently to $71.1 million in 2030.

The study has yielded other benefits beyond the impact numbers. As a result of the project, many other trail groups expressed interest in gathering data on their own trails to better understand their users and make better investments. UConn Extension partnered with the Naugatuck Valley Council of Governments and received a $62,000 recreational trails grant from the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection to expand the study to 15 other trails around the state, a project called the CT Trail Census.

[1] LetsGoCT. Connecticut’s Bold Vision for a Transportation Future. (2015). Retrieved November 15, 2016 at http://www.governor.ct.gov/malloy/lib/malloy/2015.02.18_CTDOT_30_YR_Vision.pdf

Webinar: Innovations in Workforce Development

webinar banner

Innovations in Workforce Development

A CEDAS Academy Webinar

Thursday, February 16, 2017
11:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.
Workforce development is one of the foundations of successful local and regional economic development strategies.  Local, new and emerging businesses need a well-trained and accessible labor force. In light of recent industry location decisions in the state, more than ever, communities are recognizing the importance of talent in keeping and attracting business in a global economy.Attend this webinar to learn more about the key factors affecting Connecticut’s workforce and examples of how communities are innovating to build on existing assets.

Attend this webinar to learn:

  • What’s happening in Connecticut’s labor market
  • Collaborative and innovative strategies for workforce development
  • How workforce development can grow collaboration and support businesses in your region

To register, please visit our site.

Brownfield Revitalization as a Community Development Catalyst

Originally Posted on October 30, 2015

By John McDonald, Extension Intern

Bristol Babcock
Former Bristol Babcock complex in Waterbury. Photo: John McDonald

Brownfield redevelopment has become a hot topic of late. The issue can be examined through a number of different lens. A project in Middletown, Connecticut will focus on the health outcomes of brownfield conversion in inner-city neighborhoods. Middletown’s Department of Planning, Conservation and Development has been awarded a grant from the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), a division of the Center for Disease Control. One of the aims of this initiative is to increase recreational opportunities on unused brownfield properties in order to address health disparities including childhood obesity and associated illnesses in several of Middletown’s urban areas. This is a very interesting take on the subject, and the process of creating playgrounds from brownfields can serve as a powerful symbol of neighborhood revitalization. The Middletown initiative also seeks to educate community residents about the potential hazards posed by contaminated buildings and land. This latter task is also being done in Waterbury through the Waterbury Environmental Health Fund.

As Hugh Bailey, a journalist for Hearst Media and urban planner who has researched brownfield revitalization in many communities across the nation and in Germany, points out, a paradigm shift is necessary when dealing with brownfields. It is not enough to see them in economic terms, but in how they can be redeveloped for the benefit of their communities. In his presentation, “Ruins Reborn”, developed from the short film and series of articles that were the product of his research, Mr. Bailey described the difference in how the Germans approach the issues of brownfields. The Germans have a more holistic view of the problem, unlike the case-by-case assessment typical of American brownfield redevelopment. Mr. Bailey discussed Landschaft Park in Duisburg, the focal point of a network of greenways and revitalized brownfields in the Ruhr Valley. This re-appropriation of the post-industrial environment is notable for its aesthetic and cultural significance. The Germans have taken what was once one of the most heavily industrialized regions of Europe, nearly rendered a wasteland by the departure of the manufacturing base, and transformed it into an area with a strong sense of place and community. This was achieved by tapping into the industrial heritage of the Ruhr Valley, which was not seen as a liability, but an important component of the region’s identity. The Germans were able to keep many buildings intact but gave them new purposes, ones that serve the greater good of the community and environment. Mr. Bailey noted that preserving buildings in place is a better solution than demolition, which releases large amounts of toxins into the atmosphere.

Mr. Bailey proposes something similar for the Route 8 corridor, and spoke of Knowlton Park in Bridgeport as a beachhead on that city’s beleaguered waterfront. He stressed the importance of connectivity, a theme frequently invoked at the Let’s Talk Trails event. If all the elements of the project are not united by a single vision or master plan, the prospect for success and overall effect of redevelopment will be much lower. Mr. Bailey brought up the necessity of using available state and federal funding to leverage private monies, but acknowledged that in-demand locations such as Boston and New York are seen as lower risk to developers than communities like Bridgeport, despite the latter city’s harbor and transportation access. Towns like Ansonia and Waterbury are considered even riskier, and the issue of connectivity is of great importance in this regard. Mr. Bailey spoke of the catalytic effect, the process by which one successfully redeveloped property changes the complexion of the surrounding neighborhood and spurs further revitalization, and hoped that Knowlton Park and O’Sullivan’s Island in Derby, in conjunction with the Naugatuck River Greenway, would have this effect in starting the transformation of the post-industrial landscape in the Route 8 corridor.

 

Reflections on Community Development

By Laura Brown, Community & Economic Development Educator, UConn Extension

conference
The conference in September.

Anyone who’s been in this field will attest that community development takes grit. Sometimes the day-to-day work is monotonous, exhausting, and trying. We’re challenged by conflicting personalities, politics and bureaucracies and given the charge of changing the status quo when the tides seem turned against us.  That’s why a couple of times a year I make it a point to get together with colleagues, to reflect, and zoom out of my work and world and learn about amazing things happening around the state and beyond.  Almost without fail when I make the effort to get out of my routine, I find myself utterly in awe, humbled, and reinvigorated.   The Southern New England American Planning Association Conference held in Hartford last week did that for me, even if my time there was short.

The Thursday keynote speaker at the Southern New England APA Conference in September, Peter Kageyama has written several books about community place-making.  I haven’t read any of them but we got a good feel for his approach to place-making through the bits of advice he shared using examples from cities like Detroit, Michigan and Greenville, South Carolina.  Not having read the book I can’t say how much of this advice is based on actual research versus anecdotes but the stories from communities across the country were compelling and inspiring.  I’ve always found this kind of storytelling, viral education, between communities to be one of the most effective ways to share community development. Here are a few of the tidbits I took away:

  • We should ask ourselves are we asking more from our cities other than to be safe and functional?  We should be aspiring for cities that are safe and functional but also interesting and comfortable.
  • Cities will give us back what we put it- we can think of these as “love letters” 
  • Sometimes you have tho break the rules to get where you want to be.  Rule challengers can help us think in new ways and explore what might be if things were different.  Peter gave the example of a spectacular lantern release in Grand Rapids that involved thousands more lanterns than were approved originally by the city.
  • Think easy- garden hose solutions work.  Some times I think we tend to overthink the issues we face in our communities- assuming that we need big complicated solutions to simple problems. Simple solutions, like a garden hose sprinkler in a park, can make our communities better places to live and work, even if they don’t require thousands of dollars to implement.
  • People need to play– We love to be surprised and delighted by our cities. The Mice on Main campaign inspired people to look for tiny mouse sculptures all over Greensville, South Carolina. Anther fantastic example involved an artist in Seattle who painted this “graffiti” on sidewalks that only appears when it rains.
  • We cant look at everything through the lens of cost- Those of us with a bit more analytical than creative brain love to crunch numbers.  While there is certainly a financial realty to every project Peter inspired the audience to consider “what is the cost of ugly and boring cities?”  My artist husband has taught me that there is immense value in beauty and inspiration- if only that it makes the heart sing.
  • We usually get the big stuff right- we need to focus on the small stuff– In my mind this meant really engaging change makers; new people, unique minds, in thinking about our communities and the issues we face.