June 21, 2005--Partnership was the watchword at a meeting of over 150 elected city officials, business representatives and real estate developers held in Denver on Thursday and Friday to discuss how America's more than 19,000 municipalities might successfully address urban development.
At the meeting, the National League of Cities' Forum on Economic Vitality, leaders moved to address ways to deal with cutbacks expected over the next five years by 88% of the officials at the forum. This was the second year that leaders decided to meet to talk about shared issues, having discussed public finance last year.
The result of the forum was a draft resolution to be presented to the NLC's Board of Directors in Washington D.C. in July, after which member cities will use the finalized resolution as a road map to guide policy-making over the next few years.
The key message was that "development of the economy begins at the local level, with active involvement of corporations and educators," said Steve Burkholder, Chairman to the NLC Advisory Council and Mayor of Lakewood, Colorado. "We want to re-establish local government as a viable partner to private corporations -- it starts on Main Street, not at Capitol Hill."
Collaboration with industry is expected to help city governments address challenges presented by cutbacks and to serve business interests at the same time.
Jim Hunt, 1st vice-president of the NLC and city council member of Clarksburg, West Virginia, said that, "The best sources from which to get input on urban conditions are the existing businesses working in the communities. In general, the employees of smaller companies are going to be in the same environment as the community. What the CEO of a small company is looking for in next 15 years is going to mirror what the community is looking for. There is more of a personal connection."