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New NACo Publication: Strategies to Bolster Economic Resilience

The National Association of Counties released a new report today that suggests counties, regions and communities that can foresee, adapt to and leverage changing economic conditions are best positioned to attract and grow new businesses, retain skilled workers and promote a high quality of life.

Strategies to Bolster Economic Resilience: County Leadership in Action features eight case studies demonstrating how some county leaders are pursuing innovative strategies to create healthy, safe, vibrant and economically resilient communities.

 Each year, counties invest $25 billion in economic development efforts and spend $106 billion annually to build, maintain and operate roads, bridges, transit, water systems and other public facilities. Counties partner with municipalities and state agencies to attract and retain employers; conduct planning activities to guide land use and infrastructure development; and invest in education, workforce training and business assistance programs. Through such investments and policy decisions, counties can facilitate private sector growth—directly or indirectly—by accelerating coordinated economic development efforts in partnership with public agencies, private firms and regional and state institutions.

Additionally, counties operate hospitals and health facilities, run law enforcement and criminal justice systems, build and operate parks and recreation facilities, oversee elections and maintain records, and provide a host of other social and administrative services that indirectly provide support for the local economy. Counties cannot continue to deliver these services without a healthy revenue base; robust economic development efforts are essential to ensuring that a county can operate these vital community services. 

This publication intends to spark conversation among county leaders by highlighting eight counties that are applying innovative approaches to bolster economic growth and improve community quality of life. Counties featured in the publication cover a range of geographies, population densities and types of economies. These include counties that are rapidly growing and others that are working to grow and retain populations, and small, medium and large counties in such diverse locations as rural Appalachia, the Upper Midwest and the Pacific Northwest.

From crafting economic visions and supporting new business ventures, to training local workers and assisting entrepreneurs, county leaders and their partners are approaching economic development in compelling new ways.

This report was developed with support from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Office of Sustainable Communities through a partnership with the National Association of Development Organizations (NADO) Research Foundation.