I recently had the opportunity to attend the National League of Cities annual conference. Much to my delight I was pleased to see that several of the sessions were foucsed on many of the assets we discuss that are necessary to build vibrant, sustainable communities. There was a session that discussed local strategies for promoting entrepreneurship and small business development that featured the efforts of San Antonio, Texas and Ventura, California. San Antonio has integrated a small business development division
within their economic development department while Ventura has worked with the private sector to develop seed capital
for small business startups. Transportation sessions included a discussion on the private sector investment cities like Phoenix
have seen from transportation oriented development, or "TOD". Another session discussed the benefits of alternative forms of transportaion such as bike lanes, walking paths and various forms of mass transit. Bob McNulty, with Partners for Livable Communities, spoke to the advantages of using cultural assets as a powerful civic tool. Bob is someone we've been working with the past two years, having most recently been at our convention in September, and as we develop cultural economic development strategies and tools. I also heard from an "IBM'er". You know the commercials, where IBM employees talk about how they're working to create a "smarter planet".
Well, its all about about using technology to create "smarter cities". The presenter discussed how technology is being used to provide services such as police, fire, water, sewer, communications, in a more efficient and effective manner. It was a real eye opener for me and something that I'll be looking to follow up on for our own members. And last but not least there were sessions on being "green". Grand Rapids Mayor George Heartwell was a presenter at a session to discuss how that city has taken green buildings seriously and now leads the nation in the number of LEED certified buildings per capita. When taken in total, this particular conference contained some good nuggets of information that will help us further develop resources for own members.