in Regional Economic Development
A Collection of Practices, Policy and Methods to address regional organizations’ resiliency
following natural disasters, inclusive of response, relief, and recovery.
Developed and Issued By:
Louisiana Association of Planning & Development Districts
U.S. Department of Commerce Economic Development Administration,
Austin Regional Office
504 Lavaca, Suite 1100
Presented in Brief at the Southwest Region Executive Director’s Association
Annual Training Conference, November 2010, Shreveport, Louisiana
Disaster Resiliency: Best Practices in Regional Economic Development
This document was developed in collaboration between the members of the Louisiana
Association of Planning and Development District and compiled by the Acadiana Regional
Development District as a tool for regional organizations’ resiliency.
Information contained in this document is generated from the experiences and expertise of
the LAPDD member districts’ professional staff. This was further developed by staff
participation in working groups and the subsequent development of a white paper:
―Recommendations to the Federal Government: Post-Disaster Economic Recovery‖, under
the International Economic Development Council, Business Civic Leadership Center (of the
U.S. Chamber of Commerce), and National Association of Development Organization’s
Economic Recovery Working Group.
Questions regarding the content of this document should be directed to:
Stan McGee, Chief Administrative Officer
Acadiana Regional Development District
601 Loire Ave, Suite C
P.O. Box 90070
Lafayette, LA 70509
The publication was accomplished through a body of work, funded by the U.S. Department
of Commerce Economic Development Administration (EDA), through the Austin Regional
Office under Award Number 08-06-04330, to the Louisiana Association of Planning &
Development Districts for Economic Adjustment following Hurricanes Gustav and Ike.
Neither the U.S. Department of Commerce, nor EDA, makes any claims regarding the
content of this document. The statements, findings, conclusions, recommendation and other
data in the report are solely those of the contractor.
Best Practices in Regional Economic Development
All disasters are local. Hurricane, flood, drought, domestic or foreign terrorist. These are
often the settings for action-packed blockbuster movies, and the real-life inspiration for
desperate, devastating crises with national and international media coverage. Louisiana’s
experience dealing with national catastrophes from Hurricanes Katrina/Rita in 2005 and then
Hurricanes Gustav/Ike in 2008 has positioned us within the nation’s consciousness for
disaster management and resiliency.
In collaboration with our partners, the Louisiana Association of Planning & Development
Districts, with funding from the Economic Development Administration and support from
the Austin Regional Office, has explored responses, documents, tools, guides, workshops,
policies, and practices for disaster recovery, preparedness, mitigation, and response by
regional development organizations. Over the course of the research period, District staff
utilized the timing as opportune to participate in the National Association of Development
Organization’s group meetings to extend the scope of best practices review to include
WHAT ROLE DO WE PLAY?
As regional development organizations, our designs are inherently dynamic. Our local
governments, non-profit organizations, businesses, and residents have all sought out sources
of information for preparedness, response, mitigation, and recovery. The reality is that most
are unable to actively utilize the information and take action. We are ―of‖ the region, serving
as a participant, catalyst, facilitator, and often-times driver for what our regions need. We
work within our communities, between regions, and across boundaries. Our ability to address
both opportunities and needs is directly correlated to our relevance within the local region
and significance within the State and Southwest.
Our most basic of findings is this:
Long-term disaster recovery requires resiliency.
The lines blur between preparedness, mitigation, response, and recovery; and they must. The
only way to truly recover from any disaster is to integrate well-conceived planning into
ongoing activities that is considerate of a range of possible and potential impacts from
disasters and crises. The result is a summary document of best practices in resiliency.
Federal agencies speak in terms of preparedness, response, mitigation, and recovery. FEMA
considers these as the ―four phases of emergency management.‖ Depending upon whether a
community or development entity is acting before or after a disaster; dealing with the
aftermath of a disaster, or pre-positioning so to prevent future damage, local actions may be
―organized‖ into a number of different categories, despite the similarity of both motive and
initiative to act.
The simplified phases of traditional planning activities include research, planning,
implementation, and evaluation; and planners understand that these occur both cyclically and
simultaneously. By applying the planning cycle to the topic of disaster
management/recovery, we must come to think of disaster management-related needs and
opportunities as being woven into a broader category of resiliency. Resiliency isn’t just
about building ―back‖; it is building forward and stronger. It is about consciously considering
each of the emergency management phases when making day-to-day decisions and
determining long-term strategies.
Approach to Best Practices in Resiliency
We encourage all regional organizations to foster resiliency within their own agencies and
within their region. Disasters are unpredictable, and no one is ever fully prepared. Having a
plan is helpful; however, developing a simple, philosophical approach that seeks to include
and integrate resiliency into every-day, on-going planning provides an effective strategy to
enhance the influence and relevance your organization contributes to regional development.
1. Be flexible, adaptable, and dynamic.
■ Districts are dynamic by nature. Anticipate and act on needs for your region.
Pre-position. Use the continuity plans and mutual aid agreements you
establish as samples for other entities, local-government and partners in your
region to follow.
2. Be willing to learn from others.
■ Ask questions. Develop a voracious appetite for knowledge. Engage unlikely
partners and get outside your comfort zone. Keep asking questions.
3. Throw out the rule book and change the rules.
■ Advocate. Ask permission. Interpret creatively. Apply your skills to a range of
opportunities. Design and ―request‖ new ones.
4. Stay connected, push boundaries, and be creative.
■ Extend your effectiveness. Express to funding and resource agency contacts
the convenience and solidarity of working with your State Association.
5. Pay it forward.
■ Share what you know. Consider it public domain for the masses. Do it every
Selected Best Practices in Resiliency
B est practices are those which can be replicated with similar benefits. We share our
experience and activities for implementing your own practices in resiliency. Many of
these were accomplished with existing skill sets and funding, others were conducted
due to the financial and other support of the EDA Austin Regional Office. We offer the
Regional Planning Commission
COORDINATOR AND CONVENER
Despite continuing to be in ―full-blown‖ long-term recovery along the Gulf Coast of
Louisiana from Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, Regional Planning Commission again identified
and fulfills a vital advocate role to recover after the BP oil crisis. RPC had already executed
pre-positioning agreements and established a functioning continuity plan, but RPC also
maximize opportunities in their functional approach as COORDINATOR AND CONVENER. With
strengths in transportation planning and regional innovation, it seems that RPC would have
naturally gravitated to partners with similar interests. RPC did that and more. RPC convened
weekly conference calls open to the Gulf Coast and those interested in its recovery. They
stepped out of the comfort ―zone‖, located new partners, and have been negotiating and
institutionalized relationship as liaison with U.S. Chamber of Commerce as ―agent‖ in Gulf
Coast Oil Spill Recovery. This has been accomplished with existing district resources.
Capital Region Planning Commission
With their location at the center of State government and proximity to the Joint Federal
Operations building (FEMA and Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency
Preparedness), Capital Region Planning Commission (CRPC) took the lead in locating new
contacts and serving as host for planning district association meetings, seminars and
workshops with various non-profit, State and Federal agencies. This benefitted every region
and opened the door for ONGOING LEARNING. CRPC took initiative to identify sources of
knowledge and invite them to our table – and ask that we be invited to ―theirs‖—and growing
alliances continue to be formed. CRPC continues to implement communication pathways,
drafting agreements between LAPDD members and State agencies and seeking out potential
ALLIANCES to overcome any logistical limitations.
South Central Planning and Development Commission
RESILIENCY AS THE ROUTINE
Coastal areas spend much time preparing and responding to tropical events; SCPDC has
made their own Second-Day Assessment PART OF THE ROUTINE of assessment and response.
All elected officials convene two days after an event hits land at the district offices to share
preliminary impact assessments and information regarding needs. It’s become the norm.
Furthermore, as the first regional administrator in Louisiana for parish Homeland Security
and Emergency Preparedness directors, SCPDC has worked with these to establish priorities
and pre-plan. This has given SPPDC and LAPDD a competitive edge in notifying agencies
and funders of priorities to be addressed for recovery. SCPDC coordinated the Shell Back to
the Dock program and the Fisheries Assistance Program under the Louisiana Department of
Wildlife and Fisheries – because they were PRE-POSITIONED to receive information and act
Acadiana Regional Development District
MAKING IT WORK
ARDD contributed staff to local emergency assistance offices in order to more quickly
restore the workforce stability. While evacuees sought out information on emergency food
stamps and other public assistance, ARDD CONNECTED THE WORKFORCE piece to link
employment opportunities and assistance to impacted and displaced individuals. Their ability
to make the connection between resources and needs evidenced their agency’s capacity to be
an intermediary between the State of Louisiana and the impacted business community in the
Business Grant and Loan Recovery Program. Furthermore, the professional staff had
engaged in Entrepreneurial Training and Development. This expertise resulted in ARDD
applying an entrepreneurial attitude toward assisting displaced populations and impacted
businesses. ARDD was able to bring a Small Business Administration Women’s Business
Center into the region to continue development of opportunities for impacted individuals –
resulting in new job creation through new businesses. The district’s expertise and positioning
provided real capacity for meeting needs of the next disaster, the BP Gulf Oil Spill.
Prepositioning in this manner allowed the agency to connect with local workforce investment
boards in a National Emergency Grant (NEG) program to assist those businesses and
individuals that suffered disruption and displacement from yet another disaster. ARDD is
providing training and technical assistance to affected business operations and upgrading
skills of impacted individuals.
Imperial Calcasieu Planning and Development District
IMCAL functioned as a CATALYST TO ADDRESS LOCAL NEEDS and ensure delivery. In
addition to convening local meetings for recovery and response, district professionals
contributed professional technical services to local planning processes with Public
Information, GIS, Transportation and Infrastructure, Housing, and Community Development,
Land use Administration, Economic Development, State and Federal program Coordination,
and Coastal Restoration. This was especially significant to Cameron and Calcasieu Parishes;
southern Cameron Parish had only one public building left ―standing‖ after Hurricane Rita,
the parish courthouse built in the early 1930’s. The District coordinated meetings and
provided data and maps for the locals, in a variety of forums and including various NGOs
and individuals, as base-level data for response and recovery efforts and long-range plans.
These plans included the FEMA ESF plans at the parish level for long-term recovery.
Kisatchie-Delta Regional Planning & Development District
The Central Louisiana Red Cross serves the same parishes, meaning Region 6, which
function as the line of evacuation for coastal events. This is a receiving area for Gulf Coast
evacuees during coastal events. This Red Cross chapter concentrates activities of sheltering
and staging of resources, volunteers, and equipment in Alexandria, LA. As volunteers and
medical professionals were received into the region through the Alexandria International
Airport, the Red Cross was tasked with directing these out-of-towners to where they were
most needed. KD provided/printed 32 x 44 maps with general highway information for the
Red Cross to use in deploying people and resources. These MAPS AIDED LOGISTICS for
deploying volunteers and resources. Additionally, letter-sized local maps for the Alexandria
area were provided for shelter volunteers to use in directing evacuees to local resources,
retail areas, services, and other basic needs. This was especially significant after the 2005
hurricanes, as the shelters were open and housing individuals for several months.
Furthermore, KD extended its professional staff to aid other districts with their logistical
needs. Equipment was loaned. Research was conducted and shared and professional staff lent
time and knowledge to other districts for sustainment of existing and anticipated projects and
programming. Staff communicated the needs of several districts to shared partners and
funders in an effort to secure additional aid from both traditional and new funding and
responsiveness for the districts of Louisiana. Direct needs of individual districts were
communicated to such partners as Louisiana Economic Development, EDA, USDA and
others to assist with response and recovery activities.
The Coordinating and Development Corporation
Laptops, office-space, and other equipment were shared between districts in order to sustain
the regional agencies' efforts in resiliency and recovery. After Hurricane Katrina, KD loaned
a laptop to SCPDC, as its offices were overtaken by the National Guard and State Police; and
then, after Hurricane Gustav, CDC provided access to its offices and computers for KD's
executive director during evacuation from Alexandria, in order to promote sustained
operations. CRPC housed EDA's Field Representative in Louisiana after Katrina. This type
activity was the norm. Districts collaborated every day to work through the needs of their
regions and their working PARTNERS.
Partnering with impacted areas within the region was critical to recovery. Staff visited sites,
determined needs, and connected the impacted organizations, local governments, and even
businesses with available and potential resources for use within response, recovery and
mitigation efforts require for local and regional recovery.
LAPDD is establishing a mutual aid agreement to clearly define opportunities to sustain the
regional agencies' in times of disaster events and a web-based portal to communicate
between districts during/after events when phone lines and access to such is often impacted.
North Delta Regional Planning & Development District
FACILITATING AGREEMENTS AND POINT-TO-POINT CONTACT
EDA, USDA and other partners have provided financial assistance to LED and LSU for
mobile trailer units that have been outfitted with satellite feed, computer, and response
information to be moved from community to community for business recovery workshops.
This creates meeting space in communities where none may be available whether by damage
or impact as use for temporary shelter or staging immediately after an event and continuing
into the recovery period. North Delta Regional Planning & Development District provided
professional staff services to help make arrangements for siting of the mobile and for
speakers to participate in workshops and seminars while the mobile unit was within the
region. Their ability to FACILITATE arrangements, events, agreements and programs was put
to use with local governments in the establishment of Point-to-Point contact for and with
their membership. ND assisted in identifying locations and assets for members that could be
utilized for use of evacuating populations from the Gulf Coast region; however, this was
formalized in the structuring of Point-to-Point agreements. ND drafted and reviewed
agreements designed for use between local parish (county) governing authorities in North
Louisiana and a South Louisiana partner-parish to establish the point from which displaced
populations would be coming from and the point to where these displaced populations would
be arriving to within the region. This allows for substantial pre-planning and pre-positioning
for the accommodation of large numbers of persons into locations of adequately-sized and
suited facilities for sheltering persons displaced by Gulf Coast hurricanes and/or other
hazards. This also provides a mitigation of impact on the local government from the financial
impact and tremendous strain on local resources, services, and even infrastructure, caused by
receiving large, displaced populations.
Louisiana Association of Planning & Development Districts
On behalf of Louisiana's EDA-funded revolving loan funds (RLFs), LAPDD convened and
brainstormed to request amendments allowing for exceptions in lending policies that would
promote the most flexibility in addressing recovery opportunities to aid the private sector. As
several of the RLF operators were displaced temporarily, LAPDD submitted this request as a
―blanket‖ to allow for uniform options in flexibility that would be available to any RLF
operating in Louisiana though not mandated. LAPDD’s leadership resulted in adapting
existing assets to serve as FLEXIBLE FINANCING tools and to implement these changes while
the State was still in the response mode – even before recovery could begin in most areas.
During the recovery phase, LAPDD members, with EDA support, identified the lack of
organizational communication to be a challenge during and in the aftermath of disasters.
Though the Planning Districts had established general, informal agreements for sharing of
space, equipment, and, to some degree, professional aid, the lack of information amongst
directors and staff across the state and between the regions proved to create significant
challenges to return of operations or cooperative recovery in a timely manner. Following the
disasters, power outages and overstrained phone/cell-phone lines resulted in few
opportunities for organizations and their staffs to communicate for any period of time. Most
district directors resulted to the use of text messages and rumor to pass along status and
welfare information for themselves, their organizations, and their regions. Grant resources
have since been used for COMMUNICATION DESIGN to create a web-based platform using
WordPress, with cloud technology back-up, to allow staff to sign-on the Internet and log-in
to the www.lapdd.org site to post public or private statements. Information Technology
professionals with South Central Planning & Development Commission developed the tool
for all LAPDD-affiliated staff to utilize. This has resulted in a tool that greatly enhances the
association’s capacity and will enhance cooperation and timeliness after disaster or crisis.
STARTING THE CONVERSATION
Throughout the investigative processes and with EDA funding and support, LAPDD’s Scope
of Services included the development of agreements to formalize our partnerships with other
agencies. The purpose was to forge closer working relationships for recovery and resiliency
by establishing non-cost memorandums of understanding that identified opportunities for
collaboration and would document a disaster network. It seemed that every State, Federal,
Non-governmental entity and otherwise that LAPDD affiliates had contacted was
enthusiastic about partnering with Louisiana’s Planning Districts, particularly due to the
expedient manner Districts communicate with all local governments in the State. However,
none were permitted to commit formally due to legal counsel restrictions. The more LAPDD
reached out, the more we learned that these agencies were frustrated with having only limited
contact with other organizations involved in some phase of resiliency. The answer was to
START THE CONVERSATION. We convened a conference. Approximately 50 different entities,
representing business, responders, government (local, state and federal), and various other
leading stakeholders were contacted to participate in a one-day conference. The conference
format included designated times for a ―Partnership Development Moment‖ -- to allow for
the exchange of business cards and to encourage these professionals to develop cross-entity,
working relationships before another disaster.
Beyond Louisiana and the Southwest
A fter suffering repeated hurricane disasters; recently experiences an oil spill; and
currently watching agricultural drought and economic decline, it has become
glaringly evident that resiliency must not be reliant on a specific type of disaster
experience and must be developed through enhanced tools, perspective, knowledge, and
leverage. The answers must be identified through ongoing engagement and by stepping out
of the normal area and considering the question(s) nationally, at a minimum.
IEDC/BCLC/NADO Post-Disaster Working Group
As this Best Practices was to benefit the Southwest, and perhaps any regional organization,
LAPDD did not rely on Louisiana-based practices alone. LAPDD affiliated professionals
engaged themselves in learning opportunities through various arrangements (conferences,
presentations, workshops, forums, conference calls, webinars, and training forums) in an
effort to explore what other practices may best apply to post-disaster recovery – and, more
importantly, resiliency. National organizations (International Economic Development
Council, Business and Civic Leadership Committee, and the National Association of
Development Organizations), too, instituted a Post-Disaster Working Group to contribute,
from across the nation, the experiences of regional organizations to this discussion and in the
development of recommendations that would benefit and serve resiliency. This resulted in
the development of a White Paper highlighting major areas of activities that would benefit
recovery across areas that suffered any type disaster or crises.
Some of these are paraphrased below for emphasis. The complete document is available from
the aforementioned Post-Disaster Working Group members.
IEDC/BCLC/NADO Post-Disaster Working Group White Paper (excerpts)
Recommendation 1: To establish a cognizant federal agency responsible for post-disaster
economic recovery to provide appropriate resources. There should be strong consideration of
the Department of Economic Development Administration to serve as the lead agency for
economic recovery efforts. EDA has the experience of partnering with the private sector and
understands the needs of businesses.
Recommendation 5: Adding ―disaster recovery‖ as a fourth national objective to HUD‖s
CDBG Disaster Recovery Assistance program, or consider redefining the
Third national objective to that eligible activities also meet economic recovery needs and can
be used for a longer period of time relative to the size and scale of the disaster. This would
help to spur the use of CDBG disaster funds at the local level for critical post-disaster
economic recovery projects, programs and initiatives that could not receive funding at
Recommendation 7: If a community is planning to use federal dollars for a business loan
program, ensure that program funds get de-federalized after initial use for maximum
flexibility in the long-term financing of economic recovery. This will ensure that funds
continue to circulate in the local economy, but that the nonprofit or local government agency
managing the program doesn’t have a huge administrative burden in proving no duplication
of benefits or any compliance of federal regulations for the use of federal dollars.
Recommendation 8: Provide greater flexibility in the use of federal funds for increasing
local capacity for economic recovery. This includes covering the salaries of local and state
public employees, as well as the salaries of contracting nonprofit organizations. A key issue
is that traditional and preliminary impact assessment studies often overlook the broader and
more long-term economic impacts to businesses, particularly small businesses, which is a
disservice to the entire community.
Recommendation 11: The federal government should develop a central repository of best
practices in economic recovery as a reference tool for local communities. The information
should be readily available at all times and disseminated quickly in the immediate aftermath
of a disaster.
Recommendation 14: Increase federal funds for non-traditional loan programs and expand
the use of funds to include equity financing and loan loss that can leverage private resources
for immediate small business recovery needs. Small businesses need access to low-interest
terms and/or forgivable loans, particularly during risky economic times.
Recommendation 19: Consider providing federal funds for wage subsidy and job training
programs to provide immediate, medium and long term assistance designed to retain and
While many of these best practices originated out of necessity, others came to fruition from
the contributions and collaboration of economic developers from communities and regions,
large and small. We, the members of the Louisiana Association of Planning & Development
Districts, thank our professional staff and dear colleagues from throughout the Southwest and
across the nation. These Best Practices may be used as a basis for examining your own
region’s dynamics and implementing those portions which benefit your region’s resiliency.
We welcome additions to this collection.
We offer the following as guiding thoughts in your resiliency integration.
COORDINATE AND CONVENE
MAKE RESILIENCY ROUTINE
MAKE IT WORK
BE A CATALYST
FACILITATE AGREEMENTS AND POINT TO POINT CONTACT
START THE CONVERSATION
U ntil the next conversation…