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Institute Offers Resources for Sustainable Economic Development

Cities throughout California are struggling to maintain and advance the prosperity of their residents and local businesses in a rapidly changing global economy. Diminishing local fiscal resources, the loss of local redevelopment tools, state budget cuts and the current recession have all contributed to the economic pressures facing local communities and officials. Local leaders are seeking resources to help their cities meet these fiscal challenges and thrive in today’s economic climate.

One key strategy to pursue is sustainable economic development. This includes policies and practices that help communities attract and retain jobs for the long term while also maintaining environmental quality, conserving resources, addressing economic disparities, promoting public health and generally improving the city’s quality of life. Many of these policies have the added benefit of reducing the short- and long-term costs of providing and maintaining public services and infrastructure.

The Institute for Local Government (ILG) provides tools and resources to help city officials in their efforts to promote local sustainable economic development. For example, ILG’s newly updated Sustainability Best Practices Framework (www.ca-ilg.org/SustainabilityBestPractices) offers options for local agencies to consider for reducing energy use and saving money in agency facilities, as well as options for helping local businesses reduce energy use and save money.

Similarly, the accomplishments of cities and counties participating in ILG’s sustainability recognition program, the Beacon Award, include a wealth of examples of how local agencies are working with the business community to become more sustainable, thus contributing to a thriving local economy (see www.ca-ilg.org/participant-accomplishments).

Building on the interest and resources generated by the Beacon Award program, ILG recently expanded its new online resource center for cities and counties to include broad resources on sustainable economic development. The Sustainable Economic Development Resource Center (www.ca-ilg.org/SustainableED) offers information, case stories, studies, reports and links to organizations that can help local officials in their efforts to foster sustainable economic development.

Creating prosperous and sustainable communities is a goal all city officials and leaders have in common. ILG wants to help local officials as they pursue that goal. The new Sustainable Economic Development Resource Center provides an opportunity to offer comments, questions and suggestions. Local officials are encouraged to share their stories about the challenges and opportunities they encounter in their communities. Sharing lessons learned about economic development is of great value to local leaders statewide as cities and counties work together to build a stronger and sustainable economy.

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