"It was the best of times,
it was the worst of times..."
This famous opening from Charles Dickens' A Tale of Two Cities evokes a sense of sweeping possibility - even during challenging times.
"...In short, the period was so far
like the present period..."
Planning for the future is about preparing ourselves to achieve the best possible outcomes among all of the possibilities. Our recent Economic Potential Evaluation of the Future of Hillsborough County Comprehensive Plan included three Economic Development Case Studies to take a look at communities similar to ours and their successes in addressing economic prosperity through planning. What can we learn from Austin, Charlotte and Jacksonville?
City of Austin/ Travis County, TX
Similar to Tampa/ Hillsborough in climate, population, growth, and as home to major research research universities, the City of Austin/ Travis County has a well-defined focus on quality of life as described in Issue 21
of The Weekly Planner
article On Becoming the Best Place to Live
. With strong political support and clear recognition of the relationship between workforce, housing and transportation, Austin recognizes a thriving economy is best supported by a diversity
of jobs. The Live Music Capital of the World
has capitalized on directives related to society and culture contributing to
its appeal as a place to live, work and play. With Comprehensive Plan policies like Desired Development Zones focusing on job creation and favoring performance-based regulations and incentives. Austin has established direct ties between planning and economic prosperity.
City of Charlotte/ Mecklenburg County, NC
The Charlotte area compares with our area not only in terms of growth rates and demographics, but also in urban and rural lifestyle choices. Though they have no comprehensive plan, they use a similar planning framework to ours. A range of plans - Corridor, Neighborhood Strategic, Business Corridor, 'Pedscape,' Land Use, and Transit Station Are
a - focus on activity centers and growth corridors. These District and Area Plans provide the guidelines that ultimately direct the form and function of development. In addition, an expedited plan amendment process has been favorably viewed by the development community and economic development partners.
City of Jacksonville/ Duval County, FL
Closer to home, Jacksonville/ Duval County has an NFL team, financial institutions, military presence, major health/medical facilities and intermodal resources (port, freight rail, interstate access, etc.) similar to ours. Unlike much of the rest of Florida, Jacksonville was not experiencing the growth boon from the 1970s to the 1990s. In the 1980s, their Committee of 100 asked to refocus on growth. By the 1990s, Jacksonville was boasting the largest Chamber of Commerce and Realtor Association in the U.S.What is the key to their success?
Creating a more efficient and streamlined government and eliminating 'friendly competition' among the jurisdictions to support new growth tax revenues. The voters also stepped in and approved a Better Jacksonville Plan
to fund investments that attract business expansions and attract new businesses. A prime example of the strong public-private partnerships in Jacksonville is the 17,000 acre Cecil Commerce Center
With $180 million in infrastructure investments and a proximity close to major road, rail, sea and air transportation hubs, it attracts a diversified array of businesses. This was accomplished through the Office of Economic Development
in partnership with the Jacksonville Regional Chamber of Commerce
, JAXUSA Partnership
, and the Mayport Waterfront Partnership
, et al.
'A Tale of Three Cities' has been a success story. Each of these communities has experienced positive economic growth through planning. What do they have in common?
- Political will & regional collaboration
- Strong business & public-private partnerships
- A clearly defined 'brand' or image
Now, it's up to us to write the future chapters in our own tale. The challenge remains for us to identify and capitalize on our own unique resources, define our own character, and to collectively focus on targeted industries and our quality of life, as we streamline our processes to build our own economic success story for Hillsborough County.