Wakulla County Represented at Sustainable Economies Leadership Academy
The Wakulla News, May 12, 2011
Editor's note: This article first appeared in the Wakulla (FL) News. Wakulla County was one of 20 communities who sent teams to ISC's recent Gulf Coast Sustainable Economies Leadership Academy. Please read the original article here.
Wakulla County was one of 19 communities chosen to participate in the Gulf Coast Sustainable Economies Leadership Academy held in New Orleans, La., May 2-4.
Wakulla was one of three selected from the state of Florida.
"It was a competitive thing to be at the leadership academy," said Paul Johnson who attended the conference representing the Wakulla County Chamber of Commerce.
Others on the team were County Commissioner Lynn Artz, Leon Jacobs representing the Industrial Development Authority and Pam Portwood representing several non-profit organizations including Florida Foresight and Sustainable Big Bend.
"We had a very diverse and compelling team," Johnson said.
The academy was possible in partnership with the Corporation for National and Community Service, the Clean Economy Development Center and the Institute for Sustainable Communities. Through a grant from the Surdna Foundation, all expenses were paid for those chosen.
The workshop was intended to provide training and peer learning opportunities focused on improving, expanding and accelerating communities' efforts to develop new economic development programs, such as energy efficiency, renewable energy, ecological restoration and community resilience.
Johnson said the idea was to find the economies of the future post Hurricane Katrina and the BP Oil Spill. Johnson said they were able to see how other communities reinvented themselves and their economic diversification and recovery plan.
"Like a lot of coastal communities, we are on the cusp of redefining ourselves," Johnson said.
A main idea of the workshop was to share experiences and learn from each other.
The two key words of the academy were sustainability and resiliency, Johnson said.
Communities must have economies that sustain for the future and they have to be resilient from natural and man made disasters, he said.
The workshop included guest speakers, discussions and presentations on energy efficiency and renewable energy, aligning resources and funding for sustainable economic development, energy efficiency and renewable energy frameworks and tools, financing strategies for a sustainable economy and restoring local communities, ecosystems and economies.
The next step will be for the team to come back together and debrief, Johnson said.
There is also a joint meeting of the county's Industrial Development Authority and Economic Development Council scheduled for May 17.
Johnson said they will come up with a joint plan and a specific project for economic development, and will decide on a short term project to collaborate on.
"We need a plan of moving forward," Johnson said.
Johnson said one project they are looking into is one in Port St. Lucie. They set up a sustainable alternative energy project.
"What we learned at the academy will help a lot," Johnson said. "It was a great opportunity for Wakulla County."