On Monday June 29, 2015 the United States Supreme Court brought air quality into the limelight when it ruled that the Environmental Protection Agency failed to fully consider the cost to energy producers of limiting air emissions. While the need to balance the costs of regulation against the intended social benefit is nothing new, the highest court of law held the EPA to that standard just months after the Urban Land Institute reported in America in 2015 that quality of environment (including air and water quality) is the top community attribute priority for people choosing a place to live in 2015.
If you build it…
These days it seems that new bicycle infrastructure appears every few months in Pittsburgh (a.k.a. Fourth Economy’s home) such as new signage, new bike lanes, and a brand new bike share program. In 2014, Pittsburgh was selected as a PeopleForBikes Green Lane Project city, and Mayor Peduto has called for a multi-modal approach to building out infrastructure. The City even has a 10-year plan to create a network of bike lanes through city neighborhoods. As a cycling commuter, I enjoy Pittsburgh’s 25 miles of off-street bike trails, and am excited about increased infrastructure for bicycles along city roads.
With limited budgets and a never-ending list of capital projects in the City, many Pittsburgh residents wonder whether these investments are worthwhile. Will all this bicycle infrastructure actually impact ridership and help the community?
You must know that I (and all of us at Fourth Economy) love local craft beer. It is among the first things we seek out when visiting both new and familiar communities across the country. Beyond the beer, we also love the places in which they are brewed – the small-towns and big-cities. Those revamped car dealership buildings – home to some favorites such as Fargo Brewing, ND and Kalispell Brewing, MT. That former “mom-pop” auto repair place at the end of dead-end dirt lane – visit Helltown Brewing in Mt. Pleasant, PA. The funky food trucks, local farm to table options and impromptu bluegrass open mic nights that round out the ever-changing scene and texture that is the craft brew pub experience. We love it all!
You may have missed the news out of Indiana two weeks ago – no it wasn’t about that – it was the news that Indiana became the first state in the country to launch an economic development initiative focused on Quality of Place. This effort called the Indiana Regional Cities Initiative and now supported by $84 million, is an opportunity for Indiana’s regional communities to rally together to define what they can accomplish to enhance their communities. The visionary leadership of Indiana Governor Pence and Eric Doden, former President of the Indiana Economic Development Corporation, drove the creation of this initiative and it will pay dividends to Indiana’s communities for years to come.
On April 27, Fourth Economy market opportunity client The Water Economy Network (WEN) collaborated with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to cohost the National EPA Water Technology Innovation Cluster Leaders Meeting, at Pittsburgh’s Omni William Penn Hotel.
At the end of 2014, Fourth Economy in partnership with Pfaffmann and Associates and Fourth River Development Company, completed a downtown housing market study and redevelopment plan for the City of Altoona in central Pennsylvania. This is another action plan being fully implemented by local stakeholders. Several buildings were targeted as part of this study for redevelopment into market rate urban style apartments, condominiums and destination retail. Programmatic and financing strategies were also identified.
After several months of stakeholder engagement and data analysis, the City of Lebanon, Pennsylvania along with hundreds of regional stakeholders came together in May 2015 to release its new economic plan, Grow Lebanon 2020. Fourth Economy was engaged to assist the City in the plan’s development, action agenda and public release event.
This past April, Bedford County (PA) Planning Officials hosted one of several stakeholder tours of the decommissioned Rays Hill and Sideling Hill tunnels – tunnels that formerly served as Pennsylvania Turnpike auto tunnels. The vision now is to convert those tunnels to serve hikers and bikers as part of a regional trail network.
Statistics are like a bikini, what they reveal is interesting but what they conceal is vital. A variety of “black box” applications are being introduced for economic and data analysis. These tools claim to offer intelligently organized data that provides neatly packaged insights.
On the positive side, these tools are very helpful and they are democratizing economic and data analysis. They enable the user to see a variety of indicators with a few clicks, or do drill down into various industry sectors. They also enable users to easily combine and compare indicators.