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While macro demographic, economic and societal trends continue to improve the prospects for California cities, not all will benefit to the same degree. This Thursday’s "Urban Economic Revival in California" session, held at the California Society of Municipal Analysts (CSMA) conference in Napa, will explore the underlying conditions and local government and private sector actions associated with cities like San Diego and San Francisco, whose economic outlooks continue to improve. The session will posit and address questions such as “Given the dissolution of redevelopment, how do cities attract private investment and employers to help revitalize older cities?” “Would a continuing drought affect the mix of urban versus suburban/exurban development?”

Joining Libby on "Urban Economic Revival in California" are Karen Ribble (Fitch Ratings) and John Shirey (City of Sacramento). Established in 1986, the California Society of Municipal Analysts (CSMA) is a non-profit organization that fosters professional development through discussions, meetings and presentations of issues relevant to municipal credit analysis.

Click here for the final agenda for this Thursday, November 5 conference.


The new tools of economic development and creation of sustainable and healthy communities in post-Redevelopment California took center stage at the Cal-ALHFA’s recent conference "Reinvention: 2014". Taking guidance from ULI’s December 2013 report After Redevelopment, New Tools and Strategies to Promote Economic Development and Build Sustainable Communities, Libby Seifel joined fellow report contributors to present on innovative techniques being used locally, regionally, and at the state level to stimulate housing and mixed use development. Through focused presentations and lively round table discussion, their session “Reinventing Redevelopment: New Tools for Housing and Sustainable Communities” explored recommendations and strategies posited in the ULI report.


The San Francisco District Council of the Urban Land Institute (ULI), in conjunction with the four other ULI California district councils, recently issued a report recommending a comprehensive set of tools to promote economic development and build sustainable and healthy communities. “In light of the demise of redevelopment in California in 2012, we need leadership at all levels of government to put in place a more flexible set of tools, without creating a financial burden on the state or other taxing agencies” said Elliot Stein, executive director of the ULI San Francisco District Council.

At the top of the list of recommended tools in the report “After Redevelopment: New Tools and Strategies to Promote Economic Development and Build Sustainable Communities” are the ability to assemble sites and negotiate sales, use tax increment financing on a voluntary basis by affected taxing agencies, and deploy these tools with local control, flexibility, and accountability. “One critical ‘fix’ needed is for housing,” said report co-author Joseph E. Coomes of Best & Krieger, Sacramento. “California's population is growing faster than the supply of housing. In particular, the amount of multifamily housing, which is more affordable to the state’s workforce and growing senior population, is not keeping pace. Access to affordable housing, job opportunities and quality education are critical components of any economic development strategy.” The report provides a series of targeted recommendations and calls for future discussion with State officials and key stakeholders on how to best deploy new tools in 2014.

Libby Seifel volunteered on ULI’s working group and served as the lead editor on the report (available here).


How do communities highlight their best assets to attract and retain business? A key first step is the identification of the community’s core strengths and their competitive advantages in relationship to how businesses decide where to locate.

A second critical component to economic development is developing a "customer centric" orientation that emphasizes better communication and rapport with business owners and their representatives.

A second critical component to economic development is developing a "customer centric" orientation that emphasizes better communication and rapport with business owners and their representatives.

At the League of California Cities’ Annual Conference, held September 19, Libby Seifel facilitated the lively workshop discussion “Economic Development: Spotlighting Assets in Your Community to Attract & Retain New Business". Fellow panelists included Robert Gilmore, Land Use and Economic Development Consultant with MuniServices, and Damian McKinney, Founder & CEO of The McKinney Advisory Group. Joining Libby, Rob, and Damian were elected officials and city staff.

The basics of hospitality can be a key ingredient to attracting new jobs, as Damian McKinney explains. Sharing a personal experience, Damian tells the story of a homemade dinner at the house of Town’s Mayor, of how a relaxed and supportive environment led to honest and insightful conversation on Town growth opportunities, and how this eventually led to the development of a major business in town.

Rob Gilmore noted how communities need a proactive economic development strategy that includes a focused work plan with prioritized action steps to be done on a quarterly and annual basis. Audience members also shared “best practice” experience from their own communities, including examples of how they help communities work together to establish a shared vision, conducting workshops with local business community members to identify actions steps, and developing key metrics to measure success.

The word 'hospitality' in the New Testament comes from two Greek words. The first word means 'love' and the second word means 'strangers.' It's a word that means love of strangers. - Nancy Leigh DeMoss