Encouraging Regional Collaboration: What works in your Community?

How do we break through the barriers to instill regional growth; what incentives would encourage regional collaboration? Many of the comments received at the Policy Summit on September 10, 2008 touched upon the challenge of governmental fragmentation in Ohio and on the need for governments in adjacent communities to work together, so as to maximize our resources and build upon our local assets effectively. OSU professor Mark Partridge’s paper, Our Joint Future: Rural-Urban Interdependence in 21st Century Ohio, released in advance of the summit, provides evidence for the increasing connectivity among our jurisdictions and the benefits that would derive from intentional collaboration. Partridge shows that Ohio’s communities are becoming increasingly linked in multiple ways such as home values, poverty rates, population change and commuting patterns and that the economic condition of surrounding counties are often very similar. Competing jurisdictions, therefore, are counterproductive and hinder our ability to be globally competitive.

Partridge also notes that a state which covers roughly 40,000 square miles has approximately 3,800 local governmental jurisdictions comprised of 939 municipalities and 1,308 townships. The high number of government entities in Ohio is inefficient and argues for the need to bridge the gap between communities so we can compete on a national and international level. Implementation of new state policies that incentivize jurisdictional collaboration, streamline local governments and create more effective regional planning and economic development groups is a key part of a Restoring Prosperity policy agenda. .

Brookings and Greater Ohio are exploring different legal and financial collaboration models and structures, which ultimately will appear as recommendations in the final Restoring Prosperity policy paper. You can contribute to this research by submitting your views and opinions on the following: What forms of regional governance or informal collaboration are already taking place in your community? Do you have other ideas for how we can encourage collaboration rather than competition? Of these ideas, what have the best prospects for being implemented?