Equity and Economic Development Must Go Hand in Hand

Traditional approaches don’t always work. Cities need to be intentional about targeting their economic development programs at the people and communities that are increasingly distant from the growth sectors of their local and regional economies.

The city of Cleveland is incorporating innovative approaches to economic development like the Evergreen Cooperative Initiative, a new model of equitable economic development that focuses on creating living wage jobs and asset building opportunities in six low-income neighborhoods. (Getty Images)

This is a guest post by NLC President and Cleveland Councilmember Matt Zone. It was first published in the 25th anniversary edition of PACDC magazine.

In today’s rapidly-changing demographic, social, environmental and economic environment, the need for equitable economic development programs is particularly urgent. According to the Brookings Institution, states and localities spend $50 to $80 billion on tax breaks and incentives each year in the name of economic development despite a mountain of evidence showing that tax incentives produce mostly marginal returns. These traditional approaches to economic development by local governments have not benefited all populations — and, in many cases, the policies and programs have particularly neglected or even shortchanged people of color, immigrants and low-income communities.

When cities instead invest in making economies more equitable from the bottom up, or from the middle class out, economic growth is likely to be better for all residents, and that growth is more likely to be sustained over longer periods of times. Cities need to be intentional about targeting their economic development programs, funding and policies at the specific populations and neighborhoods that are increasingly distant from the growth sectors of their regional and city economies.

In my city, we have a nonprofit organization called the Democracy Collaborative that is a national leader in equitable, inclusive and sustainable development. In partnership with the city, the Cleveland Foundation, the Ohio Employee Ownership Center, and major hospitals and universities, they helped to implement a new model of large-scale, worker-owned and community-benefiting businesses. The Evergreen Cooperative Initiative is beginning to build serious momentum in Cleveland, and we’re very proud that this model is being referred to nationally as “The Cleveland Model.” We see innovative approaches to economic development emerging in other cities nationwide to bring green job creation and neighborhood stabilization, and I’m very proud that the National League of Cities (NLC) is working to speed up the learning process in this area.

To that end, and in partnership with PolicyLink and the Urban Land Institute (ULI), NLC launched the Equitable Economic Development (EED) Fellowship last year with the generous support of the Surdna and Open Societies Foundations. Specifically, the EED Fellowship provides one year of technical assistance to a class of six cities to help them pursue more equitable and inclusive economic development policies and programs in traditionally underserved communities — those that have the highest levels of unemployment and the lowest levels of income and educational attainment, and represent the highest needs for job- and workforce-related programs in the city. Through leadership development, technical assistance, peer learning and sharing best practices, the fellowship provides city leaders with insights and tools to make equity, transparency, sustainability, innovation and community engagement driving forces for how they conduct economic development and bring an intentional focus on communities that have been historically disconnected from economic growth and prosperity.

The inaugural EED Fellowship class consists of three fellows each from the cities of Boston; Charlotte, North Carolina; Houston; Memphis, Tennessee; Milwaukee and Minneapolis. The participants in NLC’s Equitable Economic Development Fellowship are tackling unemployment, low income levels, and workforce-related issues in their communities — but each city is employing different tactics.

The EED Fellowship includes a year-long program of working retreats, web-based discussions, site visits and peer exchanges to introduce the teams of practitioners from each participating city to best practices, national experts, and their peers across the country. Throughout the year, the EED Fellowship also offers technical assistance via webinars on different topics identified by the six cities.

Each city in the program has also identified an economic development policy or program that they want to advance with a more equitable approach, and NLC, PolicyLink, and ULI deliver technical assistance to them on that project throughout the year. Some of the topics covered include: inclusive strategies for small business development and entrepreneurship support, best practices in collecting data for equitable economic development, institutionalizing equity in economic development programs and policies, and presenting a framework to incorporate an equity lens in economic development incentive package.

The work of the EED Fellowship cities also serves as a model for a new Economic Mobility and Opportunity Task Force at NLC. Based on years of work that NLC has done on antipoverty efforts and family economic security, I created this task force last fall, and asked Mayor Kasim Reed of Atlanta to chair it. The task force is comprised of 22 elected officials around the country, and Mayor Reed issued a challenge this month that each of those leaders should implement a new policy or program in their city before the task force concludes its work at the end of the year. That charge — to move from talking about innovation to actually acting to bring it about in our cities — is exactly the kind of leadership that NLC wants to bring to the challenges facing cities. We’re very proud to be leading this work with our Equitable Economic Development Fellowship. Please follow the task force’s progress and look for a report on a set of recommendations for local leaders at the end of the year.

Stay up-to-date on the Economic Mobility and Opportunity Task Force and the EED Fellowship by following this blog series. Ready to take action in your own city? Take the Local Action Challenge for Economic Mobility and Opportunity and sign a pledge to increase economic mobility and opportunity for your residents in 2017.

About the author: Matt Zone is the 2017 president of the National League of Cities (NLC). He serves as a city councilmember in Cleveland, Ohio, representing Ward 15, which includes the Detroit-Shoreway neighborhood where he and generations of his family grew up.

Why City Leaders Should Attend the Smart Cities NYC ’17 Conference

With partners such as Vice Media and the New York City Mayor’s Office of Technology and Innovation, the Smart Cities NYC ’17 conference will convene thought leaders from around the world to advance ideas about innovation, infrastructure and inclusion, with a focus on technology for social good, sustainability, resilience and equity.

The Smart Cities NYC ’17 conference and expo will be held May 3–6 at the Brooklyn Navy Yard in Brooklyn, New York. (Getty Images)

This is a guest interview by Simon Sylvester-Chaudhuri with Jerry Hultin, the president of Global Futures Group (GFG), a consulting firm that guides public and private clients on best practices in creating smart cities.

GFG builds and cultivates innovation infrastructure, enabling cities, states, countries and corporations to embrace technology and drive higher productivity and job growth within a sustainable framework. GFG is hosting the Smart Cities NYC ’17 conference and expo in partnership with Emergence Creative, Fira Barcelona, Vice Media and the New York City Mayor’s Office of Technology and Innovation. National League of Cities members receive a 25 percent discount on passes to Smart Cities NYC ’17 with the code SMARTNLC. Register here.

What is Smart Cities NYC ‘17?

Smart Cities NYC ‘17, a conference and expo to be held May 3–6 in New York City, will convene thought leaders from around the world to advance ideas about innovation, infrastructure and inclusion, with a focus on technology for social good, sustainability, resilience and equity. SCNYC17 will be hosted at the historic Brooklyn Navy Yard, with panel discussions, side events, receptions and more than 20 educational workshops. Our attendees will include more than 60 multi-sector partners as well as CIOs/CTOs from around the country, private sector and NGO leaders, and international delegations from Hong Kong, India, China, Qatar, UAE, the Netherlands and Denmark, among others.

Smart Cities NYC ’17: Powered by People is the first conference and expo to focus on the importance of citizen engagement in urban innovation. Our conference events will take place May 3–5, and May 6 will be a day for citizen engagement, with the conference open to the public. Throughout the week we’ll discuss a variety of topics ranging from infrastructure and autonomous vehicles to urban food systems and the latest smart city innovations. We want to ensure that the conversation hits the broad strokes and themes within the market but also gets into some deeper dives into subjects like disabilities, civic engagement, transportation and health.

Why is the Smart Cities NYC ‘17 theme ‘Powered by People?’

The impact of technology on society often gets lost in smart city conversations, so we wanted to be sure to tell that story. We want to emphasize the human element and explore how new programs technologies affect people in cities. To create a smart city, city leaders must leverage data and technology while also implementing programs that promote civic engagement to help make citizens’ lives better and boost economic development. We want to refocus the conversation around the effects of new technologies on people’s everyday lives, jobs, food and, most importantly, how they mobilize.

What can attendees expect at Smart Cities NYC ‘17?

Our speaker roster is a star-studded showcase of the amazing people, ideas and projects that are working to improve cities globally. Speakers include Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson; Michael Stevens, Chief Innovation Officer, City of Columbus; Don Doctoroff, Founder and CEO of Sidewalk Labs; Miguel Gamino, Jr., New York City’s Chief Technology Officer; Rachel Haot, Managing Director of 1776; and Patrick Foye, Executive Director, Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. A full list of scheduled speakers can be found here.

In addition to our great panels and keynote presentations, we will offer a deeper dive into topics through more than 20 workshops with partners such as NYU, MIT, Harvard, Stanford, Columbia, Numa, C40, Cities for Life, Civic Hall, the International Trade Administration, Capalino and Company, and many more. Urban X, a venture accelerator founded by MINI in partnership with the venture capital and investment firm SOSV, will host a startup pitch day that is generating a lot of excitement. We’ve been really fortunate to have some truly innovative and forward-thinking institutions step up and support us.

Since we began the process of creating the conference nearly two years ago, we have been joined by a lot of great multi-sector partners who also want to examine what’s happening in the foundational sectors of smart cities development, from mobility and transportation to health, infrastructure, energy and finance.

Why did you choose New York City’s Brooklyn Navy Yard as the conference venue?

The staff behind Smart Cities NYC ‘17 has had the privilege of participating in similar events throughout the U.S. and the world, and we realized that New York City has a great “smart city story” to tell, in addition to just being a great location for domestic and global attendees to discuss best practices in the space. We’ve had great support from New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s office, and we are so excited for attendees to visit the iconic Navy Yard.

How can city leaders who are unable to attend participate in Smart Cities NYC ‘17?

We really want to foster a conversation among the members of our community, so our team and partners will be live Tweeting throughout the four days of the event as well as posting to Instagram and Facebook. City leaders can follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram to join the Smart Cities NYC ‘17 community.

For a wealth of information on smart cities and how city leaders can consider and plan smart city projects, read “Trends in Smart City Development,” NLC’s recent report featuring case studies about how five cities — Philadelphia, San Francisco, Chicago, Charlotte, N.C., and New Delhi, India — are using different approaches to implement smart city projects.

About the author: Simon Sylvester-Chaudhuri is a managing partner at Global Futures Group. In this role, he is a strategic advisor to the U.S. Department of Commerce and the International Trade Administration on Smart Cities. Simon is also the executive director of Civ:Lab, a 501(c)(3) dedicated to scaling solutions for cities globally. Simon is an adjunct professor at NYU’s Center for Global Affairs as well as the founder of Urban Data NYC, New York City’s largest smart city Meetup.

Can Your City Stand to Lose Afterschool Funding?

The president’s budget proposal includes a $1.2 billion cut to school programs that will impact more than 1,600,000 children and their families.

There are a number of ways city leaders can strengthen partnerships and build public will to support afterschool initiatives like the 21st Century Community Learning Center program. (Getty Images)

This April recess, NLC is encouraging city leaders to engage with their members of Congress while they are at home in their districts for two weeks. Don’t let Congress leave America’s cities behind — join us as we #FightTheCuts proposed in the administration’s budget.

This post was co-authored by Nan Whaley and Bela Shah Spooner. It is part of a series on the 2018 federal budget.

Last month, President Donald Trump released his 2018 federal budget proposal, which contains across-the-board cuts to programs that are critical to cities. Included in those cuts was the elimination of the only federal funding stream dedicated to supporting quality afterschool and summer learning programs for 1.6 million children across the country who attend high-poverty, low-performing schools — the 21st Century Community Learning Center (21st CCLC) grants.

The programs funded through 21st CCLC grants provide essential academic and enrichment supports to children and young teens after school and during the summer while also providing a critical value to working parents, businesses and city leaders. Programs run from the time when school lets out around 3:00 p.m. until 6:00 or 7:00 p.m., enabling parents to stay at work knowing that their children are safe and learning. Kids in these programs also often receive an after-school snack or meal through additional federal funding that originates from the U.S. Department of Agriculture; sometimes it’s the only meal they will have until the next morning.

For working parents, these afterschool programs are a lifeline, helping them work those extra few hours each day to pay the bills and providing their children a nutritious meal. For businesses, these programs mean employees with children are more likely to have peace of mind when their children are out of school, keeping productivity high. For cities, these programs keep their communities safe, incentivize businesses to locate in places where employees have supports, and engage children in learning and on a path to graduation — all while helping the future generation develop key skills to land a job and support the local economy in the future.

Municipal leaders all know that successful, productive young people equal a successful city. Without these essential programs on which kids, families and communities rely, cities will be faced with hundreds or thousands of kids with no place to go after school. No one needs to tell a mayor, city councilmember, police chief or chamber of commerce executive how much of a problem that could be.

These programs also provide a critical service to parents and caregivers, allowing them to continue to work during these hours and thus contributing to the local economy and their own economic mobility.

National Demand for Afterschool Programs

There has long been a national demand for federal funding for afterschool programs. Congress first authorized the 21st Century Community Learning Center program in 1998 for $40 million. Based on documented need and demand, it was reauthorized in 2002 through the No Child Left Behind Act for $1 billion, transferring the administration of the grants from the U.S. Department of Education to state education agencies. The 21st CCLC program was again reauthorized in 2015 through the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) for $1.167 billion, showing bipartisan support and recognition of the importance of this funding stream for afterschool programs. Each state receives a fixed amount of 21st CCLC dollars, based on its share of Title I funding for low-income students, and afterschool programs at the local level apply for these dollars.

Even with this funding, hundreds of applications in each state are denied each year due to lack of funds. National data show that, while 10.2 million children participate in afterschool programs, almost 20 million children are waiting to get in. Cutting another million children out of programs puts our cities and families at risk.

In Dayton alone, 12,000 additional children would benefit from access to 21st CCLC afterschool and summer programs that currently support 40,000 children across the state of Ohio. This story is not unique to Dayton or any one city or town.

Nationwide, cities need these programs. As part of its City of Learners initiative, the city of Dayton has committed to preparing its young people for success in life and careers through afterschool and summer learning programs that help children and youth develop the skills that will put them on a path to success. It is vital for municipal leaders to understand the importance of federal funding for afterschool programs and the real impact they have on the lives of children and families in our communities. A tremendous burden will be on cities to respond if these funds are cut.

Lending Your Voice

The National League of Cities (NLC) has joined with the Afterschool Alliance, 139 national and more than 1,000 state and local organizations calling on House and Senate appropriators to reject the president’s proposed budget and fund the 21st Century Community Learning Centers initiative at or above its current level of $1.167 billion. Now is the time for you to lend your voice to this effort. Contact your member of Congress to ensure that they know the direct impact these proposed budget cuts will have on their communities and in their state. Here are four easy ways you can help:

  • Find out how many children in your state need afterschool programs and connect with your statewide afterschool network to learn how many kids are served by 21st CCLC programs in your community. Share those numbers with your representatives, either in a face-to-face meeting in your district or through a phone call to their office. Adding local stories to these numbers is critical.
  • Visit a 21st Century Community Learning Center in your city or town and hold a press conference about its value and how the proposed budget cuts could eliminate this critical program. Galvanize support in your community to contact your representatives to save the program.
  • Write an op-ed in your local newspaper on the importance of this program to your city and community. Send the article to your representative as well.
  • Contact Bela Shah Spooner at NLC to share your concern and learn more about NLC’s efforts to fight these cuts. NLC staff are always prepared to support you in your efforts to advocate for programs that are important to cities.

The Afterschool Alliance and the Senate Afterschool Caucus invite you to attend Afterschool and Summer Learning Programs: Preparing Young People for 21st Century Success, a briefing on Friday, April 21 at 1:00 p.m. EDT in room 385 of the Russell Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. NLC is co-sponsoring the briefing; please contact Bela Shah Spooner for more information.

About the authors:

Nan Whaley is the mayor of Dayton, Ohio.

 

Bela Shah Spooner is the program manager for expanded learning at the NLC Institute for Youth, Education, and Families.

Beyond Buzzwords: How West Palm Beach Is Creating a Lasting Resiliency Strategy

As part of NLC’s Leadership in Community Resilience Program, the city of West Palm Beach, Florida, conducted a STAR Communities workshop aimed at identifying and prioritizing actions to promote a healthy environment, a strong economy and the well-being of the people living in the community.

The city of West Palm Beach has set a goal to be the most resilient city in the state of Florida, and recently adopted a climate and resiliency policy which requires all internal decisions to consider the latest climate change research. (Getty Images)

This post was co-authored by Cooper Martin and Lacey Shaver.

The city of West Palm Beach, Florida, is no stranger to the future impacts of climate change. Over the next few decades, the region’s sea level is projected to rise by up to 26 inches, and the entire state faces a number of hazards including flooding, extreme precipitation, hurricanes, thunderstorms and extreme heat. As the regional temperature continues to increase, it is expected to greatly impact public health, natural and built environments, energy, agriculture and forestry.

NLC supported the Sustainable West Palm Beach workshop in partnership with STAR Communities. Pictured from left to right are David Abell and Lacey Shaver of STAR Communities, NLC Senior Associate for Leadership in Community Resilience Shafaq Choudry, West Palm Beach Mayor Jeri Muoio, West Palm Beach Sustainability Manager Penni Redford, and NLC Sustainable Cities Institute Director Cooper Martin. (NLC)

In response to these threats, West Palm Beach has set a goal to be the most resilient city in the state for its residents and businesses. The city took a big step toward that goal earlier this week at a workshop supported by National League of Cities’ (NLC) Leadership in Community Resilience Program. The event was hosted in partnership with STAR Communities, and brought together city staff across multiple departments as well as key stakeholders in the community for a series of engaging, hands-on exercises aimed at identifying and prioritizing appropriate and high-impact actions for the city and residents to take over the coming years.

In December 2016, STAR Communities, a nonprofit organization that works to evaluate and certify sustainable communities, awarded West Palm Beach a 4-STAR Community Rating based on a number of factors, including reduced energy consumption, economic growth, accessibility of public parks, and increased food security. Now, after identifying gaps and areas of opportunity to improve their overall resiliency, the city is integrating STAR metrics into its comprehensive plan and working toward a 5-STAR rating.

The Sustainable West Palm Beach workshop. (NLC)

The city hosted the workshop to engage community leaders in the discussion around resilience in West Palm Beach. The workshop was attended by more than 70 community leaders from city departments, the county, state agencies, local businesses, nonprofits, schools, utilities, neighborhood associations and other civic groups. Attendees focused their discussions on low-performing topics from the city’s STAR baseline assessment, such as transportation choices, quality jobs and living wages, environmental justice, green infrastructure and greenhouse gas mitigation.

By the end of the day, workshop participants had identified more than 40 priority actions for the community to tackle over the next three years. The actions are based on best practices from the STAR Community Rating System, and include adopting new city policies, creating new community partnerships, and conducting outreach campaigns to educate residents and businesses about sustainability.

In addition to resilient initiatives already in place to increase the city’s tree canopy, encourage alternatives to cars, and utilize renewable energy, city staff and members of the community proposed many new strategies for reaching its resiliency goals. Some of these include focusing on workforce retraining, ensuring sustainable food systems are in place, and supporting current efforts to implement a storm water master plan and update building and land use regulations.

The efforts are part of a larger vision led by Mayor Jeri Muoio and Sustainability Manager Penni Redford to be the most resilient city in the state. Earlier this year in her State of the City address, Mayor Muoio laid out her plans to “all but eliminate” greenhouse emissions by 2050 and drive the city toward equitable development, increased economic opportunities, data collection and mobility. These goals have successfully attracted partnerships with NLC, the Knight Foundation, the Van Allen Institute, Bloomberg Philanthropies’ What Works Cities initiative, and Gehl Design Studios.

About the authors:

cooper_martin_125x150Cooper Martin is the program director of the Sustainable Cities Institute at the National League of Cities.

 

Lacey Shaver is the community engagement manager at STAR Communities.

How Cities Can Acquire Free Land to House and Serve Homeless People

This webinar on April 25 will discuss the release of a toolkit with information about how to identify and successfully apply for vacant federal properties that can be used to help the homeless in your city.

One largely untapped resource for addressing homelessness and the affordable housing crisis is vacant federal property. (Getty Images)

Cities across the country are struggling with rising housing costs and shrinking federal supports, leaving millions of people homeless or at risk, including a record 1.4 million children of school age. With city budgets stretched to their limits, it is critical that local governments make full use of all available resources — and vacant federal property is a largely untapped resource.

The federal government is the largest single owner of real estate in the nation. Every year, the federal government determines that thousands of properties — including warehouses, office buildings and vacant land — are no longer needed. When such a determination is made, a federal program authorized under Title V of the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act provides local governments and nonprofit organizations with the right of first refusal to these properties to serve homeless people. Better yet, these properties are transferred to eligible homeless service providers for free.

Approximately 500 buildings and nearly 900 acres of land have been transferred to cities and other eligible homeless service providers in more than 30 states under Title V, with over two million people served each year. Federal surplus property is used to create emergency shelters, transitional housing for domestic violence survivors, and permanent supportive housing for mentally ill veterans, in addition to office and warehouse space.

Recently, the law was amended to clarify that surplus federal properties can be used for permanent housing with or without supportive services. This important clarification to the law will allow cities access to millions of dollars in federal real property assets to reduce or even end homelessness in a sustainable and cost-effective way — without paying for title to the properties.

On April 25, the National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty (NLCHP) will release a toolkit with information about how to identify and successfully apply for properties under Title V and will host a webinar to discuss the toolkit at 2:00 p.m. EDT. You can register for the webinar here. The toolkit will be available on the NLCHP website.

(NLCHP)

About the author: Elisha Harig-Blaine is the Principal Associate for Housing (Veterans and Special Needs) at NLC. Follow Elisha on Twitter @HarigBlaine.

City Leaders – Here’s Why the Better Buildings Summit Should Be on Your Calendar

More than 900 participants at the Department of Energy’s 2017 Better Buildings Summit will share proven approaches to cutting energy use in their buildings over the next 10 years.

Among other offerings, the Better Buildings Summit will provide city leaders a sneak peak of cutting edge and emerging clean technologies that will increase energy efficiency in buildings and infrastructure. (Getty Images)

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) is hosting the Better Buildings Summit May 15–17 in Washington, D.C. The Better Buildings Summit is a national meeting where leading organizations across key sectors showcase solutions to cut energy intensity in their buildings portfolio-wide by 20 percent over the next ten years. As one of the premier events for energy and sustainability professionals, the summit is the forum to engage with peers, explore innovative organizational strategies, learn about financing and technology trends, and much more. Check out the agenda for a list of all the sessions and watch this video to learn more.

The summit features numerous sessions and workshops designed to give city leaders fresh insights, inspiration and practical advice. They include:

All-In: States, Localities, Utilities and Nonprofits Creating Solutions for Underserved Communities

DOE is partnering with states, localities, utilities, housing agencies and nonprofit organizations to support the planning and implementation of clean energy programs in disadvantaged communities as part of its Clean Energy for Low Income Communities Accelerator. Session attendees will gain a better understanding of the diverse opportunities to ensure equitable and affordable access to energy efficiency and solar energy in American communities.

An Electrifying Transition: Electrification Barriers and Opportunities

A shift toward greater electrification is needed to effectively reduce energy waste and costs, increase energy independence, strengthen industry, and create jobs. This three-hour workshop explores the opportunities and barriers for state and local governments to electrify their transportation sectors, building technologies and ports. Join the workshop to discuss the latest trends, success stories and innovative strategies in electrification.

Expect the Unexpected: Planning Energy-Resilient Communities

The nation’s energy sector is subject to an increasing number of threats from natural and human events. Greater resilience is required to confront these risks, including a comprehensive plan and infrastructure with the ability to avoid disruptions, minimize impacts, and recover from and adapt to a changing environment. Attend this three-hour workshop to learn about the technologies, planning and partnership approaches governments are pursuing to overcome these challenges.

Shedding Light on LED Street Lights

The Better Buildings Outdoor Lighting Accelerator dove deeply into the deployment barriers of LED street lights, a performance technology with evidence-based energy savings and other benefits for many cities. Partners will share advice for overcoming the challenges for successful LED street lighting conversion projects. Attendees will leave with actionable information and resources to plan their own projects.

Reimagining Cities! Achieving Efficient, Resilient and Sustainable Communities Through Zero Energy Buildings

Exemplary Zero Energy Buildings (ZEBs) are setting the standard for more sustainable communities. Over the last year, ZEB projects grew by 74 percent and have covered every climate zone in the U.S. This session will cover the planning, innovative technologies and processes that make Zero Energy Buildings a reality while highlighting ZEB projects in Denver and Washington, D.C.

Addressing the Energy-Water Nexus: The Next Wave of Challenges and Solutions

Our nation’s energy and water systems are inextricably linked. Solutions that address the interdependencies of these systems are growing in importance as concerns over water scarcity continue to rise. In this session, experts from the public and private sectors will share their perspectives on key technology, business and policy solutions that address the energy-water nexus.

There are also great opportunities to tour high-performance buildings, speak with technical experts from national labs, and network with public sector peers:

  • Monday, May 15: Local government meet-up and post-summit networking event
  • Tuesday and Wednesday, May 15 and 16: Ask-an-Expert between sessions to get technical advice on building technologies or reserve a meeting to get one-on-one assistance with your community’s energy performance data
  • Tuesday May 16: Meet & greet with attendees during an evening networking event

Register now and get an invite to join the summit app community!

Financial assistance is available. A limited number of travel stipends and registration scholarships are available upon request for representatives from state or local government energy/sustainability offices that do not have administrative funds available for such purposes through an existing federal funding agreement with DOE or another federal agency. Please submit financial assistance requests through the registration website.

The Better Buildings Summit is produced by the U.S Department of Energy.

About the author: Nick Kasza is a Senior Associate with the Sustainable Cities Institute at the National League of Cities. He is part of a team that administers the SolSmart program and helps deliver technical assistance to cities pursuing SolSmart designation.

Racing to Be First: How Autonomous Vehicles Will Affect Our Communities

A new National League of Cities report addresses the most pressing questions that local officials might have concerning self-driving vehicles.

Autonomous vehicles are already on our city streets — and for the foreseeable future, a variety of vehicles will operate on our roads with varying levels of automation. (Getty Images)

The full version of this post can be found on Route Fifty

The race towards fully autonomous vehicles has shifted into overdrive. In the past year, major partnerships and acquisitions between tech firms and traditional automakers have signaled the race is heating up for the future of transportation — and the stakes are high.

Traditional automakers like GM, Ford, Daimler and Fiat are taking the competition posed by Google’s Waymo and Elon Musk’s Tesla seriously — partnering with car-sharing platforms like Uber and Lyft as well as acquiring their own autonomous capabilities in firms like Cruise Automation. Nearly every major auto manufacturer has set a target for full autonomous production by 2021 or before, while autonomous vehicles are already on the streets of Pittsburgh and Tempe, Arizona. If major investments by the sector’s most prominent firms are anything to go by, producers are betting that the future of mobility, especially urban mobility, will be in autonomous fleets of shared vehicles collecting reams of data as they drive through our city streets.

Read the full version on Route Fifty.

About the authors:

Nicole DuPuis is the principal associate for urban innovation in NLC’s Center for City Solutions and Applied Research. Follow Nicole on Twitter at @nicolemdupuis.

Elias Stahl is the urban innovation intern in NLC’s Center for City Solutions and Applied Research.