South Dakota Commissioner Don Larson, Chair of NACo’s Agriculture and Rural Advisory Committee, testified before the Senate congressional staff in support of the Livable Communities Act on April 30th. NACo reports,
“The Livable Communities Act provides resources via incentive grants to local communities of all sizes to create more sustainable futures by developing and implementing locally designed, comprehensive regional plans that incorporate transportation, housing, economic development and environmental needs. The bill also makes the federal government a better partner to local communities through technical assistance and the removal of federal barriers to sustainable development.
Larson discussed a regional partnership his county created with South Dakota State University for an Innovation Campus, the first research park developed in the state of South Dakota. The innovation campus provides a place for people to combine university, business, industry and government expertise in an environment promoting critical thinking and new ideas. The regional partners include the county and city of Brookings, Brookings Economic Development Corporation, South Dakota State University and a state legislature representative.
The innovation campus combines retail and support services, walking, jogging bike trails and open green spaces. To get started, Brookings County provided upfront money, but the project could not have been possible without federal funding support. Other rural communities, Larson said, may want to start planning and implementing sustainable development projects, but lack the resources to do so. “
NACo along with 200 additional national and local organizations supports the Livable Communities Act. More information is available on the NACo website.