Crises have consequences
We often hear the term 'elections have consequences.' Regardless as to whether we understand or agree with that expression, we do know that 'crisises have consequences.' Whether it be the pandemic or wildfires or tornadoes or unrest, they all impact our communities. One of the greatest consequences is despair. The recent Mennio Survey of Mayors and an earlier Nathional League of Cities Survey all reveal a deep-seated concern that our communities will not be able to build back better (we call it 'bounce back') unless they can secure additional federal funds.
During our work with the City of Nashiville, mitigating the impact of urban flooding on vulnerable populations, we have had meetings canceled because of tornadoes (March, 2020,) the COVID 19 crisis (April, 2020,) unrest (June, 2020) and still the City, led by Major John Cooper has persisted in planning to develop new ways to mitigate the impact of urban flooding on Nashville's vulnderable populations. The vaccine for despair, as Nashville has shown, is having a vision and persisting in that vision.
A vision and persistence can create economic opportunity
You probably have not had time to really consider how the recent election of former Vice President Joe Biden will impact your community. You've heard that he considers climate change a significant crisises; but you may not know what that means for your community. In no uncertain terms, let me tell you that - President Elect Biden's concern about the impact of climate change on the United States will produce greater economic development and jobs for your community if you know how to plan for it.
Smart Infrastructure Creates Jobs
Back in 2016 the Smart Cities Council compiled reserach showing that buidling the infrastructure required to reduce energy costs, improve water management and decreased carbon emissions (all of these being symptoms of climiate crisis) would produce jobs. They would produce even more jobs if the infrastructure being build was 'smart.' So for example - if we built a bridge using traditional techniques and pour concrete and weld steel, we can produce jobs. We can produce even more jobs with greater economic empact and longer term resilience, if we make that bridge 'smart.' This means embedding sensors and instrumentation in the concrete and steel, followed by data collection and predictive maintenance tools which tell us when the bridget is at risk structurally because of wear and tear or weather. Building 'smart' infrastructure requires more skils and time then traditional construction and increases safety and resilence. So you make your community safer while adding jobs. Very simple result.
Here are some insights we have gained from our work in Washington, DC:
- Hazard sesnsors - We have heard that there will be a new effort at FEMA, DHS and other agencies to fund new types of sensors for any kind of hazard mitigation. So if you are going to apply for FEMA BRIC grants (January, 2021) or other types of federal funding, consider including hazard (flooding, fire) sensors in your grants.
- Rural broadband - <insert>
- Aggregate and form teams - Many of President Elect Biden's top level administratoin selections will be Washington insiders (which understadably you may not like); but at least we can predict with some certaintity they will attempt to advance policies like they did before. One of the biggest drivers of economic development during the Obama Adminsitraiton was its Department of Transportation Smart Transportation Challenge that the city of Columbus, OH won. Columbus was able to drive <insert> in economic development triggered by the $50M grant from the federal government.
- Your community needs to consider finding other communities and stakeholders (parnters) from industry, academia and nonprofits that can help you plan for and apply for the eventual federal grants or challenges that will be announced. START YOUR WORK NOW. (What can the Council do?)
40,000 Jobs for NE Ohio
In fact, our 2016 effort has been confirmed by a recent release of reserach by the American Flood Coalition, which found that for every $1B of water management solutions implemented, 40,000 new jobs are created. As part of our collaborative engagement with the City of Nashville, TN we interviewed Michasel Blair, Project Manager for the North East Ohio Sewer District, a 500 sq. area that includes Cleveland, OH. NEOSD hass over $1B in captial projects to improve its water management. For north east Ohio that would be an additional 40,000 - in a region where loss of manufacturing jobs has been considerable.
Planning for increase economic development
Smart infrastructure related to the climiate crisis - start planning
Consider reviewing the projects submitted by our Readiness Challenge finalists for the first quarter 2021. You will find the CIty of Nashville urban flooding project, along with two massive projects from Orange County (Orlando,) Florida - energy efficiency and traffic planning. You can also find <insert> and <insert.> All of these projects will give you ideas about what your community could do to secure new jobs and mitigate the impact of climate change. If you want more informaiotn on how to do something similar attend our collaborative engagement sessions, which are free to cities and from which you can learn how to create a similar plan (you will even get a project template to kick-start your efforts [for free.])