Gary W. Becker and Jerry Wehrle attended a Summit sponsored by the Northeast-Midwest Institute and the Brookings Institution in Washington DC on February 11-12, 2009.  The focus of the Summit was on revitalizing older cities.  There was discussion of strategies, funding and legislation that local governments can use to help revitalize older industrial cities in northeast and midwest states.  Wisconsin has a number of older industrial cities facing revitalization challenges.

Becker and Wehrle also met with Senator Herb Kohl, Senator Russ Feingold and Rep. Ron Kind to discuss the work of the Local Government Institute and issues facing local government in Wisconsin.

The Summit included discussion about the role of local government in restoring economic prosperity and the relationship between federal policy and the health of local government.  The following ideas were discussed:

  • Regional organizations to promote innovation and networking within regional industrial clusters: example ideas included - National Innovation Foundation, Cluster Information Centers, Energy Discovery Innovation Institutes
  • Strengthen local and regional connections between transportation, housing and land use: ideas mentioned included - Sustainability Challenge Contracts, redesigned Neighborhood Stabilization Program, federal program to fund local/regional land banks.  In new Transportation bill, Congress is looking at incentivizing regional cooperation around transportation at local level with performance measures and targets for 10% mode shift.
  • Improve governance networks to match the regional nature of today's challenges: provide preferential funding to local governments that embrace regional planning and problem-solving, competitive grants to stimulate innovation in state and local governance
  • The value created by public acquisition & demolition of vacant blighted structures and planting of green space/gardens; value of urban agriculture for community development
  • Performance-based measurements kept coming up in a number of different contexts.  Organizations and funding sources are interested in knowing that objectives tied to funding are being met - whether it is grant funding or taxpayer funding to implement plans developed by a city.
Notable quotes:
"The federal government needs to provide leadership and vision, then empower local government and allow freedom for local units to decide what is best for themselves and their region."  - Jennifer Vey, Brookings Institution
"R3=E3 - Regional Rapid Reliable transit and transportation opportunities creates Economic growth, Equitable access and Environmental protection." - Otis Rolley III, CEO Central Maryland Transportation Alliance
Notes from Summit - 16 pages - 430 KB
Report on Summit from Northeast Midwest Institute - file attached below - 12 pages - 98 KB
Presentations:
Choose Your Region
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