May 1, 2012

Sustainable Small Communities

America's Most Economically Sustainable Small Communities

Ben Schiller delves into recent rankings that aim to demonstrate how smaller sized counties can achieve sustainable economic impacts. With five key criteria of investment, talent, sustainability, place and diversity as the metrics for evaluation, Fourth Economy, a Pittsburgh-based economic development consultancy, ranked communities according to their ability to achieve and maintain economic growth.  They identified Georgia's Clarke CountyIndiana's Monroe County and Iowa's Johnson County at the top of their list, with Tompkins CountyNew York and Lee County, Alabama rounding out their top five communities with 100,000 to 150,000 people.

Kansas City Federal Reserve Bank - New research published in the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City's Economic Review suggests that housing investments by community development corporations significantly increase the appreciation of nearby homes, which may help stabilize declining neighborhoods.

They Made Main Street Their Own: How Four Women Revived a Derelict Mississippi Town  (NYT) – goes to show that luck and pluck can take a small town of 4,000 far.
USDA Unveils New Food Hub Resource Guide to Expand Market Opportunities for Farmers and Ranchers  
On April 20, the U. S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) unveiled the first Regional Food Hub Resource Guide.  Food hubs are businesses or organizations that connect producers with buyers by offering a suite of production, distribution, and marketing services. The guide is a collection of information and resources, providing background on everything needed to develop or participate in a regional food hub. According to USDA, “the guide highlights the economic contributions food hubs make to local communities and the role they play in expanding regional food systems. It also outlines funding opportunities, support resources, best practices, strategies to address challenges and more. In 2011, USDA identified more than 170 food hubs operating around the country.”

The Atlas of Rural and Small-Town America is a mapping application that provides a spatial interpretation of county-level, economic and social conditions along four broad categories of socioeconomic factors: people (using population size, race and ethnicity, and immigration data from the 2010 Decennial Census and other demographic data from the American Community Survey, including age, race and ethnicity, migration and immigration, education, household size and family composition), jobs (using economic data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and other sources, including information on employment trends, unemployment, industrial composition, and household income), agriculture (using indicators from the 2007 Census of Agriculture, including number and size of farms, operator characteristics, off-farm income, and government payments), and county classifications (using typologies such as the rural-urban continuum, economic dependence, persistent poverty, population loss, and other ERS county codes). Maps are interactive and also provided for download; raw data are provided for download. Data from the 2006-2010 American Community Survey have been recently added. Released Wednesday, April 18, 2012.  See

The new Sustainable Communities Leadership Academy website brings the Climate Leadership AcademyUrban Sustainability Leadership Academy, and our work with the Sustainable Communities Learning Network together in one place. 

Now the valuable, high-caliber information from these first-class peer-learning and training workshops is available to practitioners in any community, not just those from the nearly 300 communities who have participated so far. 
The website makes it easy to find resource guides from past workshops, download case-studies, watch videos, and discover useful toolkits.  

EDA Know Your Region Webinar: Creating Asset-Based Strategies and Partnerships:  On May 3 at 2:00 p.m. (EST), the NADO Research Foundation will host a webinar that showcases two Regional Development Organizations (RDOs) that have used partnerships and bottom-up economic development strategies to encourage regional innovation and manufacturing cluster development in rural regions. This EDA Know Your Region webinar will provide training on how RDOs have established public-private partnerships in their regions and how they have utilized those partnerships when developing regional strategies that support job growth and innovation.  To register for the webinar click here.  For more information about the webinar contact Matthew Black at or             (202) 624.7809      .  For information about the EDA Know Your Region program and to access past Know Your Region webinars follow the link

EPA Smart Growth Webinar -- Reimagining Rural: Green Building Boosts Economy in Howard, South Dakota:  
On Tuesday, May 8, 3:00-4:00 Eastern, please join EPA's Office of Sustainable Communities, Kathy Callies, Acting President of the Rural Learning Center (RLC), and Randy Parry, RLC's former President, to learn how Howard, SD, a community of 850 residents, came together to revitalize its local economy. The community's vision and drive resulted in construction of the LEED Platinum Maroney Commons, which includes a restaurant, hotel, fitness center, and conference center that serves as a training center for the region on green jobs and rural health care. The webinar will include a discussion of what other communities can learn from Howard's experience. Maroney Commons is the 2011 winner of EPA's National Award for Smart Growth Achievement in the category of Rural Smart Growth. Learn more about Howard's story at

Webinar Details: Tuesday, May 8, 3:00 - 4:00 EasternTo join this webinar, click on No pre-registration is required. Participants must also phone in. Audio is not available through the webinar. Conference Number:             (866) 299-3188        Participant Code: 2025662950 (Participants who have difficulty accessing the conference call may call for             800-399-6757       for assistance.)


On March 28,
 U.S. Commerce Secretary John Bryson announced the availability of $200 million in U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) funding to help communities that received a major disaster designation in fiscal year 2011 with long-term economic recovery and infrastructure support. Funds will be awarded on a competitive basis.  Eligible applicants include states or subdivisions of states (such as towns, counties, etc.); public or private nonprofit organizations or associations; district organizations (such as economic development districts, regional planning commissions, etc.); institutions of higher education; and Indian tribes. For more information on how to apply for the disaster relief funds, click here. To read the Department of Commerce blog post by Acting Assistant Secretary for Economic Development Matt Erskine, click here.  In late January, NADO, in collaboration with the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA), the International Economic Development Council (IEDC), and the U.S. Chamber’s Business Civic Leadership Center (BCLC), hosted a webinar to provide preliminary guidance on funding priorities and requirements associated with this federal funding opportunity.  Webinar slides and a recording of the webinar are available here.EDA Announces Availability of $200 Million in Disaster Relief Funds

MetLife Foundation Awards for Excellence in Affordable Housing Invites Applications of Exceptional Green, Senior Housing Properties - In recognition of excellence in the development and operation of senior independent living properties in the United States, awards of $50,000 will be given to four sponsoring organizations....Deadline: May 23, 2012

Christine Sorensen, Rural Development Coordinator
Rural Development
U.S. Department of Agriculture

Thanks to Anne Hullinger for sharing.