At its January 23rd meeting, the Region Forward Coalition focused on the future of Region Forward as well as regional economic competitiveness. It was also the first meeting featuring Emmett Jordan as Chair of the Coalition. The Greenbelt Mayor succeeds Arlington County Board Member Mary Hynes, who is stepping down after providing leadership for the Coalition for the last three and a half years and helping shepherd the group’s work on Activity Centers and the Place Opportunity Report. District of Columbia Councilmember David Grosso and Loudoun County Supervisor Kenneth Reid will serve as Vice Chairs of the multi-sector group of public, private, and nonprofit leaders created by the COG Board of Directors to help the region advance shared goals.
The Coalition heard from Mariia Zimmerman of MZ Strategies, LLC, who shared her assessment and key findings of the Region Forward Coalition’s work and effectiveness, and its needs going forward. As the region heads into its 5th year since COG and local governments endorsed the Region Forward Vision, key goals for 2015 are for the Coalition to be relevant and substantive, interactive, and direction-setting. During the discussion, some participants commented on the need to do a better job translating the work of the Coalition into legislation and other initiatives in their home communities, and called for better communications mechanisms to get this information to local government boards and work groups. The group also discussed measuring progress on Region Forward targets (updating the Baseline established in 2012) as a way of setting priorities for the year and re-framing the focus of the Coalition.
The Coalition’s leadership has identified regional economic competitiveness as the theme for 2015 and focused on two recent studies on economic change and infrastructure by the Center for Regional Analysis at George Mason University and COG respectively.
Steve Fuller of Center for Regional Analysis at George Mason University presented From Company Town to Global Business Center: Building on Strengths/ Mitigating Barriers.
In line with the theme of competitiveness, COG has just released State of the Region: Infrastructure Report, which identified critical funding gaps totaling $58 billion across five infrastructure sectors.
A recent op-ed by Robert McCartney referenced both Dr. Fuller’s work and COG’s infrastructure report: Alarm bells ring for Washington regional economy on growth, infrastructure.
Derrick Berlage of Prince George’s County mentioned a 2013 study of the County’s key industry clusters: Economic Drivers and Catalysts: A Targeted Economic Development Strategy for Prince George’s County, Maryland.
Moving forward, the Coalition’s upcoming 2015 meetings will each build on the regional competitiveness theme:
Friday, April 24th, 11am-1:30pm: Business climate, changing industry dynamics, and regional competitiveness
Friday, July 10th, 11am-1:30pm: Infrastructure and connecting Activity Centers
Friday, October 23rd, 11am-1:30pm: Housing affordability and workforce development