It’s been so hot lately, and we’ve been so busy, that we haven’t had the time to properly thank everyone for participating in our Sustainable Communities workshop a few weeks ago (July 17). So, a belated salute!

We had over 100 stakeholders at the workshop, which was held at Chesapeake Energy’s campus. The participants came from the public, private and non-profit sectors, and engaged with each other in break-out sessions (John Sharp and Danny Fazekas, in photo) that focused on five key areas of the grant, including regional land use, mobility, environmental, economic development and health issues.

Of course, there’s more to that with the new HUD Sustainable Communities Regional Planning Grant program. The program, formally announced in June, is designed to create economically competitive, healthy, opportunity-rich communities. Funding was approved by Congress in HUD’s 2010 budget, as part of a $200 million fund for the agency’s new Office of Sustainable Housing and Communities.

The goodwill we’ve received in the past month working on this effort has been amazing. Since the notice was issued, we’ve been working hard on data collection and developing the grant application narrative. We’ve also had numerous meetings and direct correspondence with a lot of folks who understand the importance of this new endeavor.

Ultimately, whether we receive the grant or not, we hope to foster long-term relationships between entities in the region who may not have traditionally worked together in the past. In order to start establishing livability as a real, tangible factor in our lives, we have to first start talking about it.

We’re trying to beat the clock to meet the application deadline of August 23. We’re still seeking and accepting letters of support, resolutions and memorandums of understanding with regional entities and organizations.

If you want to help, we would love to hear from you. Contact John G. Johnson or Nicolle Franklin at ACOG, 234-2264 for more information.

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