Grand Rapids Receives IDA's Highest Honor for Working Towards Racial Equity and Opportunity in its Downtown
Downtown Grand Rapids Inc. is being celebrated for its work to put forward an equity driven growth model for the future of the city's downtown. Recently, the International Downtown Association (IDA) recognized the Grand Rapids community for its efforts to build racial equity and opportunity in Downtown Grand Rapids with a Pinnacle Award - the industry's highest honor.
Downtown Grand Rapids spearheaded Grand Rapids Forward, which is a 10-year plan and investment strategy "to transform the Grand River into a distinct asset and support the next generation of growth in Downtown Grand Rapids." Since the Plan's adoption in 2015 many actions have been taken that support greater equity and inclusion in Grand Rapids including but not limited to:
NP is proud to have been part of the team who prepared the Grand Rapids Forward Plan, serving as an economic consultant with a focus on workforce development, retail dynamics and entrepreneurial activity.
NP just kicked off a new project in Burlington, VT focused on the stabilization of several neighborhoods that are significantly impacted by college housing in the city. Dubbed the Neighborhood Project, the effort aims to to achieve a balance of housing choices in near campus neighborhoods, improve the quality of housing stock for a wide range of residents, and improve the quality of life for residents in the impacted wards.
NP, in partnership with Interface Studios, has been hired to develop a set of specific, practical actions the City and its partners can take to achieve the project's goals. Over the next few months, our team will be meeting with local stakeholders, analyzing local conditions and trends, and working with partners to develop a set of recommendations that can be implemented in the coming months and years.
As part of this work, our team spent the last week on the ground in Burlington. Here's a few pics from the trip.
NP's work has been garnering some press in the past few weeks:
New Haven has been recognized as a place of innovation in Connecticut by CTNext. Led by the Elm City Innovation Collaborative New Haven has been designated an Innovation Place and has been awarded $2 million in implementation grants for fiscal year 2018.
New Haven is one of four communities to be designated. Others include Hartford/East Hartford, New London/Groton, and Stamford. In total, CTNext can award up to $6.9 million to designated communities in fiscal year 2018 to augment private and public investments in aimed at attracting talent to the state and increasing cities and towns capacity for innovation.
NP is proud to have supported New Haven with the development of its proposal for state designation and funding.
Looking for ways to attract talent and strengthen your community's workforce? Check out the North East Regional Employment & Training Association's upcoming Job Creation Summit to be held on June 14 and 15. NP's Kevin Hively will be speaking on the state of the technology workforce in the US and there is a strong line-up of presenters speaking on ways to build the talent pipeline, support local entrepreneurs, and build local eco-systems that enable workforce development. The Summit is being moderated by noted author and journalist William Holstein. Other speakers include social entrepreneur Tess Possner, economic gardening expert Paul Bateson, and author and founder of Jobeconomics Chuck Vollmer.
RISD Design Program Named One of Top Innovation Projects In US; Makes Connection Between Design & Manufacturing
The Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) just made it to the top of Fast Company's United States of Innovation list. The list highlights 50 projects that are tacking the challenges facing our country today. RISD recently launched the pilot executive education program, Design for Manufacturing. The program "integrates concepts of strategic design thinking and innovation as they apply to the manufacturing environment. These concepts, combined with entrepreneurial application will help leaders in the manufacturing sector uncover new business, development opportunities and management strategies for growth." Classes include design thinking, product design, and 3-D printing and prototyping among others.
RISD’s program is highlighted in a recent report, Industrial Design: A Competitive Edge for U.S. Manufacturing Success in the Global Economy, released by the National Endowment for the Arts in April. This report makes the case for industrial design and provides best practice models for replication and adaptation in other parts of the country.
NP is proud to have supported RISD through the program's launch and development and to have participated as an interviewee for the NEA report.
Proactive planning takes many forms. Currently, NP is assisting with the SUBASE New London Joint Land Use Study (JLUS). A JLUS is a cooperative land use planning effort between local government and military installations. The effort aims to ensure compatible planning of military installations and surrounding communities.
NP's role has been to study the regional economy and economic impact of SUBASE New London. Not surprisingly, SUBASE and related industries (in this case ship building) play a significant role in the economy in the New London area. For more information on the project and to see a recent presentation of the study's early findings see the video below or visit: https://www.subasenljlus.com/.
Innovation Districts have become the 21st century Convention Center solution to urban regeneration. From our discussions with communities across the country, it appears every community in the country, big and small, are pursuing some form or version of an “innovation district”.
NP’s approach to Innovation Districts is not simply a real estate plan. For these places to reach their full potential they need to focus on keeping and attracting talent. Talent drives innovation.
Talent is attracted by a combination of opportunities and lifestyle. Opportunity equates to unique infrastructure, low cost settings, entrepreneurial support, leading edge research, opportunities for career development, and adequate employment options. Lifestyle is about place-making, the physical environment, and the vibe and activity level of an area.
Institutions can be an important catalytic source and contributor to the development of an Innovation District. Institutions, usually meds & eds, can anchor real estate projects, create spin off opportunities, and serve as a source of talent.
But innovation comes in many forms – the District should be about creating a place for innovation and entrepreneurship to thrive regardless of the institution or industry. Homegrown, organic areas of innovation activity provide the basis of sustainability because they are not driven by a funding program that fades over time but the interest of the entrepreneurs and innovators. Understanding this can help shape a recruitment program targeted to filling in key gaps in the innovation ecosystem.
NP is currently working with two communities on leveraging their innovation potential. The Elm City Innovation Collaborative (New Haven, CT) is currently competing for a state Innovation Places implementation grant to support the city’s development as an Innovation Place. The Collaborative aims to attract and retain talent, support entrepreneurs and businesses, and target investment in areas best suited to serve as hubs of innovation in the City.
In Athens-Clarke County, GA NP is working with local partners to understand the potential for a district that builds on Athens unique creative culture as well as the growing research program of the University of Georgia.
With so much focus on innovation, it’s easy to lose sight of other ways communities can re-shape their economies. For instance, NP is working with the Lower Connecticut River Valley to implement its Economic Development Strategy that focused on building on the region’s lifestyle economy. Ultimately, sound economic development focuses on understanding what kinds of businesses can succeed given a place’s assets and capabilities and in light of existing conditions and emerging trends.
Photo credit: Boegh, CC By-SA 4.0
iGearing up for 2017 conference season? Make sure to check out NP's own Kevin Hively at IEDC and APA. Kevin will be speaking at the International Economic Development Council (IEDC) Leadership Summit in January 2017 on the topic of ocean based economic development. Then, in May, he'll be speaking on Innovation Districts at the National American Planners Association Conference in NYC.
Ever wonder what advanced manufacturing is exactly? Or what it means for local economic development? NP's Kevin Hively and Ariana McBride co-authored an article in the current issue of Expansion Solutions Magazine on the state of advanced manufacturing. In addition to detailing industry trends, the article highlights several key economic development considerations for attracting advanced manufacturing including workforce availability, building stock and the implications of Industrial 4.0.
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