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NACo South Region Update
Greetings fellow South Region members,
I was privileged to be one of 20 county leaders and staff invited to participate in a White House Forum on Sept. 19 that dealt with the role that county governments can play in economic development. North Carolina’s unemployment rate remains above the national average, and I know the story is similar throughout the South Region. The forum, titled “Building Blocks for Economic Development and Job Growth,” explored the role of the public sector— especially counties and regional development organizations — in making strategic investments to support private sector job creation and economic opportunity. NACO’s new executive director, Matt Chase, helped put the forum together along with his former organization, the National Association of Development Organizations (NADO).
We met with senior White House and federal agency officials to learn about effective practices across the country. We talked about the federal programs that are critical to counties, such as Community Development Block Grants, transportation funding and workforce training programs, among others. A particular emphasis of mine was to discuss how the federal government can make the administration of these programs easier for the end-user by simplifying application procedures and easing reporting requirements.
NACo published a story about the meeting in a recent issue of County News. Please read that article when you have a chance. If you have any ideas about economic development strategies that NACo should be pursuing at the federal level, please let me know. I would love to hear from our counties about specific projects you have undertaken in your county and how you think NACo and the federal government can make these projects more successful.
If you have issues and ideas you would like to discuss with your federal delegation, please make plans to attend the 2013 NACo Legislative Conference, which will be held March 2-6 at the Washington Hilton. This is your chance to hear from key Administration officials and members of Congress on various hot topics. NACo always has a wonderful slate of educational workshops that feature speakers from many federal agencies with information that is important for county officials. And be sure to extend your stay for a day so you can go to Capitol Hill and lobby your federal representatives. Registration will open in November for the conference.
NACo is sponsoring a Healthy Communities seminar on Nov. 27 in DeKalb and Fulton Counties, which is the Atlanta, Ga., area. The two-day health-focused forum will help attendees learn how counties can respond effectively to the continually changing environment of health care delivery and financing. The forum will examine broad health care policy and system changes and the implications for county health care delivery systems and will include a tour of Grady Hospital. The forum is being offered as part of NACo's Healthy Counties Initiative started by Past President Lenny Eliaison. This initiative supports innovative public-private partnerships within the many areas of public health that counties are involved with and highlights county health best practices enhanced through collaboration with the private sector. There is a $100 registration fee, and only two attendees per county may attend. The registration fee includes two nights at the Loews Atlanta Hotel.
Visit NACo’s Web site to learn more and see the tentative agenda.
Joe Bryan, NACo South Region Representative