I’m more and more amazed at how fast time passes. This year is rapidly coming to a close, with Thanksgiving less than a month away. Before we can say “Kris Kringle” it will be December and then the New Year. Back in late 2012 when my staff and I were planning our outreach, external programs, and research agenda, we recognized that 2013 would be a blur of non–stop activity. We were correct. And while reflecting at this point may seem akin to stores putting out Christmas decorations in October, I’d like to take a look back now for two reasons: to share what we’ve accomplished so far and to ask for your input as we look ahead to 2014.
We had three major goals for 2013:
- publish impactful research on the housing market,
- become engaged in and more knowledgeable about workforce development issues in our district, and
- provide high–quality, relevant public programs on issues where we have expertise.
While we have a few weeks to go and some work to finalize, I think we’ve accomplished each of these goals.
We released two notable research papers this year that have received more than a little attention (our third research piece will be published in 2014). The first, “Policy Considerations for Ohio’s Housing Markets,” offers policy options to improve the foreclosure process for abandoned properties in Ohio. The second, “Low–Income Rental Housing Options in the Fourth District,” discusses the operational characteristics of the two most prevalent federal programs for affordable rental housing—the low–income housing tax credit and the housing choice voucher. Both papers build on our work in housing, and have prompted requests for presentations and more information on the topics from municipal leaders, academics, and policymakers alike.
With respect to becoming more knowledgeable about workforce development issues, our outreach team has participated in some 30 meetings with individuals and entities from across our district engaged in this area. In one such effort, we partnered with the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia to hold listening sessions across the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to learn from administrators and professionals who work daily to train or place the unemployed. In Ohio, we met with state and federal staff, high school and community college administrators, and professionals from chambers of commerce, business associations, and social service agencies to learn about the demand for and challenges in training workers. In Kentucky, we’ve engaged with state officials and grant makers as part of this learning process. We are summarizing all of this work, and what we’ve learned, in a report that will be published by the end of the year.
Finally, I believe we’ve succeeded in providing interesting, challenging, and meaningful public programming to our stakeholders. To mention a few highlights, almost 300 community development practitioners, public officials, and researchers attended our 2013 Policy Summit in September (you can access videos, research papers, and presentations from the Policy Summit here), which we co–sponsored with the Philadelphia Fed. We partnered with a regional policy group on a series of problem–property webinars for county and municipal administrators across Ohio. We held workshops on access to credit and capital for small business. We also partnered with three Reserve Banks on “Redefining ‘Rust Belt,’” a series of videoconferences that brings together leaders from Cleveland, Baltimore, Philadelphia, and Detroit to share ideas for community revitalization. The feedback from all these efforts has been extremely positive.
Now it’s your turn to weigh in. If you’ve read our work, met with us this year, or attended one of our public programs, I thank you and would very much like to hear how our work helped you in completing your mission. More important, what can we do to build on and improve our efforts to support community and economic development in our region?
If you haven’t looked at the work on our website, I encourage you to do so. We’ve begun planning for 2014 and our menu of activities is as aggressive and diverse as it was this year. Have a suggestion for where we can add value? Let me or someone on the team know. And check back with us often to learn what we’re working on and how it may fit your needs. We appreciate hearing from you!