As I’m getting settled in at my new position at Fourth Economy, I have been thinking about how I can blend my experiences into the team’s current projects and approaches. I have known some of the Fourth Economy team for many years, and I’m certainly someone who has promoted and supported their brand of progressive innovative growth strategies / economic development, and regional development. At the same time, I’m someone who has worked for many years promoting the strategic value that sustainability principles (triple bottom line) bring to companies, organizations and collaborative initiatives. So, I’ve been thinking about the sustainability side of the fourth economy and the organizations we’ll find there.
Mitt Romney lost the election but some of his fiscal ideas may survive. Mitt Romney’s comments on an Iowa radio station re-ignited the debate about the mortgage interest deduction (MID) that has been simmering since at least 1984. Romney’s plan calls for a $17,000 deduction budget that effectively caps and may even kill the MID:
As an option you could say everybody’s going to get up to a $17,000 deduction. And you could use your charitable deduction, your home mortgage deduction, or others — your health care deduction, and you can fill that bucket, if you will, that $17,000 bucket that way. And higher income people might have a lower number.
The MID inspires deep passions. It is also not likely to be received by the public with any objectivity. The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) released a poll showing that the MID was supported by 77 percent of Republicans, 71 percent of Independents and 71 percent of Democrats. Real estate lobbyists have been arguing for some time that eliminating the MID while the housing market is weak would further destabilize housing. However home prices and interest rates are so low right now that the benefit that the deduction provides to buyers has been significantly minimized. As a result, there are new calls that now is exactly the right time to restructure the deduction.
First, thank you to the many colleagues and friends who noticed that we have not been filing inboxes with Economic Architecture over the past few months. As I am sure you can relate, the excuse is simple – we have been really busy.
Since January, we have had incredible opportunities to work with national and local clients as well as volunteer our time. I personally have been to Fargo, ND; Providence, RI; Orlando, FL; Washington, D.C.; Cleveland, OH; York, PA; Charleston, WV; Morgantown, WV; Youngstown, OH; Columbus, OH; Baltimore, MD; and communities throughout Southwestern, PA. I have appreciated the conversations and opportunities that provided this travel and have learned a good deal from my encounters. I’d like to share with you five trends I’ve heard consistently throughout these travels:
For economic and community developers, a new “best of” and “top places” ranking season is underway. While it may not be as popular as basketball’s March Madness, there is no doubt that economic and community performance rankings attract a lot of attention. They are of great interest to the media, elected officials, the business community and residents at-large.
But rankings are only one part of a very complex economic performance story. Compounding their use and reliability is the fact that not all adopt the most rigorous, relevant or transparent methods. And positive or negative scores do not impact all business investment decision-making in the same way.
Fourth Economy has been providing management and development services to the University Economic Development Association (UEDA) for more than a year now. Last month more than thirty UEDA members and Board convened in Washington D.C. to discuss the Association’s operational plan and provide updates on each of the committees’ action items. “A special thanks to all of those who were able to attend the UEDA Spring meeting,” said UEDA President Chuck Shoopman. “We learned from our presenters and each other while making good progress with face-to-face committee meetings. The energy in the room was positive and productive,” Shoopman added.
As part of a growing organizational development practice area, Fourth Economy is continuing to help build and advance the Water Economy Network’s (Network) 2013 agenda and action plan. Several major initiatives were announced in the first quarter of this year designed to expand Greater Pittsburgh’s water sector market opportunities. “Since our inaugural board meeting in November 2012 we have moved very quickly to analyze the market opportunities, define clear objectives for our organization, create a governance structure and move forward on several fronts,” said Network Chair Sam Johnson, director of water asset management for CONSOL Energy.“
“Our aggressive first-year plan includes spearheading a water innovation challenge program, coordinating work plans with several national water innovation collaboratives, co-hosting a major international water innovation conference in Pittsburgh and continuing to identify water sector challenges and the market opportunities they represent,” Johnson added.
Today, Fourth Economy will be meeting with Rhode Island’s Governor Chafee, members of the legislature, and other stakeholders to discuss the findings of our Economic Development Data Analysis and Assessment. The report comes after two months working closely with the Rhode Island Economic Development Corporation, the Statewide Planning Program, and the Office of Regulatory Reform as part of a larger Sustainable Communities Regional Planning Grant. The report analyzes Rhode Island’s business climate, industry clusters, regulatory environment, financial resources, and marketing efforts.
This spring, the under-construction Energy Innovation Center (EIC) in Pittsburgh will be offering courses in “Retro-Commissioning Commercial and Industrial Buildings” and “Project Management for the Energy Industry” as a part of their Corporate Training Exchange, an initiative that brings the public courses that were designed by the nation’s top corporations.
When it opens, the 6.6-acre complex will be an incubator for the green energy industry, a job-training center and a technical support complex for work-force development. Located in the Hill District of Pittsburgh, in the historic Connelly Trade School building, the EIC intends to bring job creation, entrepreneurship and urban economic revitalization to an area that has suffered economically in the past 50 years. By bringing world-class technology to the area, this not-for-profit organization will bring together community members and corporate partners.
Governor Chafee Announces Next Action Step in Development of an Integrated Plan to Mobilize State and Community Assets for a Better Rhode Island
January 14, 2013 (Providence, R.I.) – Governor Lincoln D. Chafee today announced the next action step in a multi-agency effort over the next two years to develop an integrated approach for the state to land use, transportation, housing, and economic development. Through an open Request for Proposals (RFP) issued November 7, 2012 by the Rhode Island Economic Development Corporation (RIEDC), in collaboration with the Division of Planning’s Statewide Planning Program, Rhode Island has selected a consulting team to compile economic data, analyze the state’s regional performance, and identify strengths and possible ways to improve Rhode Island’s economy.