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Economic Resilience around the U.S. and in Georgia

This post is the second half of a series on economic resilience. It presents some successful practices from communities around the country and describes some resilience activities from communities in Georgia.

Mayor Kasim Reed has appointed Stephanie Stuckey Benfield as the city’s first Chief Resilience Officer. Photo : Stephanie Benfield, Twitter

The U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) recommends that communities develop plans to mitigate the impact of shocks to their economies and support long-term recovery efforts. This includes all communities, whether they are prone to natural disasters or deleterious economic shifts or not. All communities should be aware of their vulnerabilities and be prepared to withstand and respond to related shocks. Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS) Content Guidelines offer a number of resiliency strategies for economic development organizations to incorporate into their CEDS planning documents that accomplish this goal. Some economic resiliency initiatives are discussed below.

Initiatives around the US

Regions around the country have performed studies or outlined strategies to prepare for shocks. Below are just a few examples from other states that Georgia communities should consider.

North Central Florida: The North Central Florida Regional Planning Council (NCFRPC) completed a study in 2011 to assess the region’s ability to economically recover from natural disasters. The study consists of the following:

  • A hazards analysis to model hurricane-induced storm surges;
  • A vulnerability analysis to map developed areas and infrastructure at high flood risk;
  • A regional economic analysis to assess capital structure loss, job loss, and population loss from a hurricane; and
  • An economic resiliency discussion focused on the state’s Florida Business Disaster Tool Kit.

Mountainland Region Utah: The Mountainland Economic Development District (MEDD) updated their CEDS in 2013 and included a disaster and economic recovery and resiliency strategy. The section outlines MEDD’s commitments in the event of a disaster. It includes a phase describing efforts for pre-disaster preparedness and a phase devoted to post-disaster planning and implementation. It also defines MEDD’s role in post-disaster economic recovery. This includes restoring the economic base of disaster-impacted communities and identifying hazard-mitigation opportunities in concert with reconstruction.

Southeastern Vermont: Southeastern Vermont Economic Development Strategies (SeVEDS) developed their CEDS in 2014. Their CEDS touched on many issues, including economic resiliency, but it stands out because of its focus on results. Its goals, objectives, and strategies focus on concrete actions with measurable outcomes. For example, an objective to act regionally includes a strategy to expand public, private, and non-profit collaboration which includes a measureable outcome: “The Southeastern Vermont region will achieve a good to excellent rating for best practices in regional CEDS and collaboration by end of 2018”.

The CEDS’ focus on results keeps the plan from collecting dust on a shelf. Instead, it becomes a checklist of action items that the implementation team can measure their progress against. To do this, they employed ViTAL Economy’s S.M.A.R.T. framework to guide the development of their strategy and action items. Applying it to economic resilience goals and objectives ensures meaningful implementation.

Resiliency in Georgia

Augusta-Richmond County: The consolidated government of Augusta-Richmond County began focusing on the long-term after it experienced economic downturns toward the end of the 20th century. Their efforts for economic resiliency involved three goals: attracting a diverse mix of businesses, enhancing their higher educational institutions, and encouraging investment in their historic downtown. With these goals and with their focus on the long term, the community now boasts a strong economic foundation. They have attracted a diverse mix of small and large businesses. Their university is growing with new properties downtown. The downtown is also growing with mixed-use developments and affordable housing. Their long-term focus on these three goals is also credited with the community’s ability to weather the effects of the Great Recession.

Coastal Regional Commission of Georgia: In 2014, the Coastal Regional Commission released the Resilience Plan for the Coast of Georgia. The plan examines the natural hazards of the region, its natural and built environment, and related proposals and programs. The purpose of the plan is to strengthen the region’s ability to avoid the impacts of natural hazards and to recover from the effects of natural hazards after the fact. One component of the plan involves an assessment of business vulnerability (included jobs and sales effected) in the event of a category 1 thru 5 tropical storm. The plan also includes recommendations for communities to engage businesses regarding continuity planning in the event of a crisis and recommends courses to help businesses plan for catastrophic events through the Small Business Administrations.

City of Atlanta: The latest resilience effort announced by a Georgia community is the City of Atlanta’s appointment of a Chief Resilience Officer, Stephanie Stuckey Benfield. This new position, funded by the Rockefeller Foundation’s 100 Resilient Cities initiative, will lead city-wide efforts to address social, physical, and economic resiliency challenges. These include acute natural disasters such as hurricanes and fires, as well as “slow-moving” disasters like water shortages and unemployment. Some current resiliency projects include:

  • Converting the Bell Wood Quarry into a reservoir with a 30-day water supply;
  • Hiring an urban agriculture director tasked with bringing local, healthy food options to more Atlanta residents; and
  • Implementing the Renew Atlanta bond program to improve the city’s infrastructure.

Also of Interest: Economic resilience will be the focus of Georgia Tech’s 2017 Basic Economic Development Course—Economic Resilience: Building Capacity for Strong Communities (March 21, 2017-March 24, 2017). For more on the course, visit www.gt-bedc.org.

Sources

Note this discussion draws from the 2016 Georgia Economic Outlook Report prepared for the EDA University Center program, operated by Georgia Tech’s EI2.

Mountainland Economic Development District (MEDD). (2013). Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy Update. Retrieved from: https://mountainland.org/img/Mountainland%20Full%20CEDS%2012-19-14-1.pdf.

National Association of Counties (NACO). (2013). Strategies to Bolster Economic Resilience. Retrieved from: http://www.naco.org/sites/default/files/documents/Strategies%20to%20Bolster%20Economic%20Resilience.pdf.

North Central Florida Regional Planning Council (NCFRPC). (2011). Economic and Disaster Resiliency Study. Retrieved from: http://ncfrpc.org/Publications/EADRS/NCFRPC_EconomicAndDisasterResiliencyStudy.pdf.

Southeastern Vermont Economic Development Strategy (SeVEDS). (2013). 2014 S.M.A.R.T. CEDS Report. Retrieved from: http://seveds.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/FINALCEDSReport.2013.pdf.

United States Economic Development Administration (EDA). (2016). Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS) Content Guidelines. Retrieved from: https://www.eda.gov/ceds/.

University of Georgia (UGA). (2014). Hazard and Resiliency Plan for the Coast of Georgia. Retrieved from:  http://www.crc.ga.gov/publications/crccouncil/resiliency_plan_good.pdf.

City of Atlanta. (2016). Mayor Kasim Reed, In Partnership with 100 Resilient Cities, Appoints Stephanie Stuckey-Benfield as City of Atlanta’s First Chief Resilience Officer. Retrieved from: http://www.atlantaga.gov/index.aspx?page=672&recordid=4803.

For questions, contact:

Sam Pugh

Phone: 404-894-3851 | Fax: 404-410-6910
Email: ude.hcetag.etavonninull@hgup.mas