Former NARC Executive Director William Dodge once said, “Regions are the new communities of the 21st century. They have emerged just as villages, towns, cities, and counties did before them… And now they determine our fates.”
This quote could not be timelier. As we take time to reflect on the past year and look ahead to 2018, one question has emerged more than any other: What is the role of a 21st century regional council?
Highlighting the innovative initiatives that regional councils are carrying out today and exploring where they can be leaders in their communities drove many of NARC’s activities in 2017.
A Summary of Some of NARC’s Successes Over the Last Year (2017)
- Trees and Stormwater Website Launch: NARC (along with Ohio-Kentucky-Indiana Regional Council of Governments, the U.S. Forest Service, Davey Resource Group, and Centerline Strategies, LLC) launched a Trees and Stormwater website to provide local decision-makers with tools to integrate trees into stormwater management design and policy.
- Fleets for the Future: Our S. Department of Energy-funded grant program is continuing to change the face of aggregate procurement methods for alternative fuel vehicles (AFVs), employing a more regional approach that regional councils can replicate.
- MPO Coordination Rulemaking Reversal: One of NARC’s biggest advocacy victories of 2017 was bipartisan legislation to reverse the Obama administration’s MPO Coordination rulemaking, which was passed unanimously by Congress and signed into law by President Trump.
- Advocacy on the Hill: NARC continues to make the case for regions to congressional staff and administration officials through face-to-face visits and co-produced letters. More and more, the regional perspective is becoming an essential part of federal legislation and priorities.
- Major Metros Roundtable: NARC formulated the Regional Major Metro Roundtable to give regional members in major metropolitan areas more opportunities to come together to discuss their greatest challenges, innovations, and ideas.
- Strengthening Ties with National Advocacy Groups and Coalitions: NARC cultivated relationships with organizations and coalitions to find opportunities for collaboration and joint advocacy. The National League of Cities; National Association of Counties; U.S. Conference of Mayors; National Association of Development Organizations; Campaign to Invest in America’s Workforce; Community Development Block Grant Coalition; Economic Development Coalition; and Campaign for Renewed Rural Development were all significant partners of ours in 2017.
- Sharing Regional Best Practices: Our member regions’ best innovations were shared during our three annual conferences, our “regional spotlight” in eRegions and Transportation Thursdays, and our new document that compiles new projects and initiatives that regional leaders presented during Rapid-Fire Innovation Sessions at our 2014-2016 Executive Directors Conferences.
We look forward to working with our members and national partners in 2018. Our members do groundbreaking work, and we aim to support them in any way we can!