Building Economic Resilience in the Kerr-Tarr Region (North Carolina): Recommendations for Linking Comprehensive Economic Development Strategies and Hazard Mitigation Plans

Developed for the Council of Governments for the Kerr-Tarr region of North Carolina, this report identifies ways to align the region’s Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS) and its hazard mitigation plans (HMPs), and to incorporate economic resilience into the CEDS. The report outlines the four essential elements of the CEDS and HMPs - planning process, risk assessment, mitigation strategy and plan maintenance - and demonstrates how they can inform each other. The Kerr-Tar Regional COG covers North Carolina’s predominantly rural Region K, which includes Franklin, Granville, Person, Vance, and Warren Counties.

This report was developed specifically for the Kerr-Tar Regional COG and its local government partners, and the suggested strategies are customized to Region K’s specific conditions, needs, and plans. However, regional development organization staff, economic developers, mitigation planners, emergency managers, and other local government representatives from elsewhere in the country who are working to coordinate economic development and hazard mitigation efforts might find the overarching concepts and approaches helpful as well.

According to the report, considering hazard mitigation and economic development planning as interrelated processes is a critical step toward building economic resilience. The comparable structure of HMPs and the CEDS, along with the parallels in the planning processes and the similar analyses that are required, make it possible to align the two plans and facilitate hazard mitigation and economic development efforts that build on and strengthen each other.

Specific recommendations are provided for the Kerr-Tar Regional Council of Governments which suggest approaches to strengthen and align its CEDS and HMPs by engaging new stakeholders; deepening analyses; selecting projects for implementation based on an inclusive set of economic, environmental, social, and resilience criteria; and through other means. 

The report also describes the resulting benefits of aligning HMPs and CEDs:

  • Businesses and business districts located in safe areas;
  • Commercial buildings built to standards that allow them to withstand storms;
  • Businesses that continue operating or reopen quickly after severe weather events;
  • Critical facilities and infrastructure that continue serving key employers and the public during and after severe weather events;
  • Prioritized business reentry for key economic drivers;
  • Open space and natural resource preservation that reduces hazard impacts and attracts tourism;
  • Diversified economies that reduce reliance on sectors that are particularly vulnerable to hazards and climate change;
  • Marketability of the region to businesses and investors looking to locate in communities that are safe and well-prepared for disasters;
  • Job market stability as a result of businesses being better prepared for disasters; and
  • Stable tax revenue streams for local governments when businesses are able to continue operating during and after severe weather events and workers are able to continue working.

The appendix contains further information and resources, including a full resilience assessment that was conducted for the Kerr-Tar region, a sample SWOT analysis, and a listing of planning guidelines, data sources, examples, and other helpful materials related to hazard mitigation and economic development planning.

 

The findings in this report are from a technical assistance project conducted by the NADO Research Foundation and the University of Louisville Center for Hazard Research and Policy Development for the Kerr-Tar Regional Council of Governments in North Carolina. 

 

 

 

Publication Date: March 16, 2015

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