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Growth Monitor for Economic Development

Tracking the issues, programs, incentives, tax matters, and "lessons learned" affecting local economic development.
The 15-Minute City concept gains tracking.
The 15-Minute City Concept Gains Traction

The-15-Minute City concept is gaining traction around the world as a placemaking tactic and means to enhance quality of life.   Although “city” is used in this coined term, this planning concept is more about a focus on livable neighborhoods and districts.

 

The “15-minute city” is a term for urban design and master planning wherein it is possible to meet the basic “needs of living” within a 15-minute walk or bike ride from a person’s home.  The needs of living include such services and amenities as:

 

  • Places of work, or, at least a coworking venue;
  • Grocers;
  • Pharmacies;
  • Schools for children, youth;
  • Health care or medical facilities, or simply, doctor and dentist offices;
  • Recreation, leisure and/or green spaces; at least a pocket or linear park;
  • Cultural venues;
  • Mass transit accessibility;
  • Affordable housing is assumed;
  • Flexible zoning to allow places with different day-part uses, such as local school facility that can be a community gathering place at night or on weekends; and
  • Places of worship are seldom mentioned as part of the 15-Minute City concept, but such places may be among the most successful community-building forces that have existed.

 

 

The planning term was first coined by by Prof. Carlos Moreno, a professor at Sorbonne University (Paris, France).  Prof. Moreno is the director of entrepreneurship and innovation at The Sorbonne.  Though popularized by the professor, the 15-Minute City concept itself  has been explored in major cities throughout the world from Melbourne to Portland, prior to its burgeoning popularity as an planning concept.

 

During 2020, the 15-Minute City concept has surged in interest as a sturdy planning concept alongside the increasing acceptance of coworking facilities and communities.   Coworking venues situated in close proximity to homes simply adds an additional destination within a 15-minute “neighborhood” that is vital within a 15-minute radii.

 

The 15-Minute City concept is a multi-faceted placemaking tactic.

Another aspect of making the 15-Minute City concept workable is the presence of affordable housing within each 15-Minute City cluster.  Many neighborhoods and districts around the world may work well for most required services and work places, but do not have the array of housing choices necessary.

 

Integrating the 15-Minute City concept with allied planning concepts is particularly interesting to local governments charged with numerous quality of life objectives and economic development initiatives.   A 15-Minute City imperative, as an example, is also deemed helpful in reducing the use of fossil fuels (vehicles), fighting carbon emissions, and thereby fighting climate change.  Also, applying the 15-Minute City thresholds of accessibility also advances the objectives for some groups in reversing local zoning codes to allow increased affordable housing options and thereby, more diversity, inclusion, and social justice.

 

The 15-Minute City concept has created such interest that purpose-built apps have been created to evaluate any particular location for 15-Minute City thresholds. Here Technologies (Eindhoven, Netherlands) is one such company that has created this kind of threshold’s map to answer the question – Do You Live in a 15-Minute City? We expect that the 15-Minute City parameters and software applications that track such notions, will join similar concepts as a niche investment asset class among those pursuing environmental, social, and governmental investments (so-called ESG Investing).

Rep. Haaland Nominated to Lead Interior Dept.
Rep. Haaland Nominated for Interior Department

Rep. Haaland is nominated to lead the Interior Department.   With Senate confirmation, Rep. Haaland will become the first Native American to serve as Cabinet secretary.

 

President-elect Joe Biden nominated Rep. Debra Haaland to helm the U.S. Department of the Interior, a federal agency forever linked with the history of Native Americans since the nation’s founding.   The Albuquerque Journal has reported that Haaland’s nomination reflects Biden’s commitment to address the historical mistreatment of Native Americans including violations of treaty obligations.

 

The Interior Department administers roughly 500 million acres of public lands and plays a key policy role on tribal issues.   In her role, Rep. Debra Haaland’s Interior Department will oversee two key tribal offices – the Bureau of Indian Affairs (“BIA”) and the Bureau of Indian Education.  The U.S. Interior Department was first established in 1849, actually established after the BIA was first established in 1824 – the oldest agency within the Department of the Interior.

 

Rep. Haaland is a Laguna Pueblo member and is well-known for her leadership roles in tribal government, administration, and economic development programs and enterprises.  Laguna Pueblo is a federally-recognized tribe of Native American Pueblo people situated to the west of metro Albuquerque, New Mexico.   The Laguna Pueblo tribal reservation includes approximately 500,000 acres of land situated in Cibola, Valencia, Bernalillo and Sandoval counties.

 

A full article regarding U.S. Rep. Haaland being nominated to lead the Interior Department, is available at the Albuquerque Journal:  Haaland gets historic Cabinet nomination

 

 

Rep. Haaland is Nominated to Lead the Interior Department

The U.S. Interior Department administers roughly 500 million acres of public lands, involving a myriad of environmental, energy, and public access issues and concerns.

North America's Borders Remain Closed
North America’s Borders Remain Closed

North America’s borders remain closed through January 21, 2021, limiting border crossings to “essential trade only” between the U.S., Canada, and Mexico.   The mutually-agreed extension has been made on a month by month basis during 2020, and has been in place since March of this year.

 

The border closure is due to Covid-19 cases on both sides of each border, and the interest of each country in protecting their citizens.   The national health agencies and ministries, and health officers, for each country are part of the decision-making for these restrictions.  Each country is looking to relevant data and protective health measures that seem to be working.

 

So-called border crossing due to “essential trade” activity is allowed under the provisions of the agreed restrictions, between the U.S. and Canada, and between Mexico and the U.S.   While essential economic development and various business activities continue, cross-border tourist activities to any number of visitor destinations have been decimated.

 

Presumptive President-elect Joe Biden’s administration will be part of the next consideration of these border restrictions.  Biden is set to take office on January 20, and the current border restrictions come due for consideration on January 21st.

 

A full article in Travel Pulse from December 11, 2020 indicating that North America’s borders remain closed, is available at this link:

 

US, Canada and Mexico Land Border Restrictions Extended

Economic Development Consultants for Tribes
Economic Development Consultants for Tribes

Our work as economic development consultants for tribes and other indigenous nations has expanded with additional services and new regions covered.

 

StoneCreek Partners’ client work with Native American tribes and pueblos, as well as Native Hawaiians, now includes Canadian First Nation tribes and organizations.   Over the years, StoneCreek Partners has also worked with indigenous nations in addition to those in North America, including those sovereign nations in the MENA region and the Pacific Rim.

 

The Covid-19 pandemic of 2020 has increased the interest in economic development plans that can reliably produce economic results – increased jobs, new investment, and enhanced quality of life.   And sooner than later.   Our economic sector analytics have an increasingly granular focus on real estate investment asset classes.    This is due to some types of investment now being in question, and relatively new asset classes commanding investor attention.

 

Our consulting focus is on projects that can be made to happen, and less on broad programmatic objectives.

 

Another focus is on the feasibility of specific projects.   As we act as economic development consultants for tribes we explore how development might occur in a particular region, focusing more on projects that can be made to happen, and less on broad programmatic objectives.   With specific projects identified, strategic partners can be identified and pursued.

 

Today’s economic development strategies can include all manner of visitor destination strategies, location-based entertainment, sports mega-complexes, life sciences projects, and other development can prosper within specific locations and markets.  Our experience with design management, development, facilities management, and with overall dealmaking and transactions allows us to take economic strategies through implementation.

 

What is a charrette? Charrettes explainedStoneCreek Partners is a business planning and development firm, with expertise that includes commercial real estate, hospitality, location-based entertainment, and direct-to-consumer technologies. StoneCreek Partners has provided economic development planning and program implementation support to Native American tribes and their sovereign development companies, as well as to similar city, county, and state organizations.

 

Our firm’s essential value to clients is our hands-on experience in designing, developing, and operating projects and businesses. StoneCreek Partners is led by co-founder Donald Bredberg and his substantial experience as an executive with The Irvine Company, NBCUniversal, and the Riyadh-based family office of Newfield Enterprises International.

 

The firm was first established in 1984 in Los Angeles, and is now headquartered in Nevada.  Our economic development consulting for tribal nations and other indigenous nations got started shortly after the firm’s founding.

 

Additional information about our economic development consulting practice is available at this link:

 

StoneCreek Partners – Economic Development Consultants

Comparing the Pfizer and Moderna Vaccines
Comparing the Pfizer and Moderna Vaccines

We found this interesting, an article comparing the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines by Mike Terry writing for BioSpace, the life sciences digital hub.  All of us are of course keen to know what may be coming with these Covid-19 vaccines.  The economic recovery and economic development we all hope for, depends upon the actual and perceived protections and treatments that are coming.

 

The best early news is the so-called “efficacy rate” … both vaccines are reporting 90%+ efficacy rates.   the CDC states that “vaccine efficacy/effectiveness (“VE”) is measured by calculating the risk of disease among vaccinated and unvaccinated persons and determining the percentage reduction in risk of disease among vaccinated persons relative to unvaccinated persons.

 

One big similarity in comparing the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines is that each use new messenger RNA technology.  RNA therapies that use mRNAs have been in the works prior to the Covid-19 outbreak, for possible use in personalized cancer vaccines and as vaccines for infectious diseases such as Zika virus.  However, as Mike Terry notes in his article, to-date, no therapeutic or vaccine using mRNA has been approved for use by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

 

to-date, no therapeutic or vaccine using mRNA has been approved for use by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

 

Both of these vaccine candidates require two doses about 28 days apart.  The Pfizer-BioNTech requires specialized refrigeration although the drug researcher and manufacturer Pfizer has designed its own packaging using dry ice that can be stored for weeks without the specialized freezers.

 

Pfizer and BioNTech have no development funding from the U.S. government, but do have a $1.95 billion agreement with the government to supply 100 million doses of the vaccine, with an option for another 500 million.   The Moderna vaccine trials were developed with financial and logistical support from the U.S. National institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) and Operation Warp Speed, and could receive up to $2.45 billion in federal government funding.  And Moderna has a $1.5 billion deal to supply 100 million doses to the U.S. government.

 

The rapid progress from virus detection, sequencing information availability, and these vaccines being in their current state of testing, is a testament to the role of the burgeoning life sciences research and development industry in today’s connected global community.

 

The full article at BioSpace comparing the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines can be reviewed here:

 

Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna’s Vaccines Are Leading the COVID-19 Race. How Do They Compare?

 

California’s Proposition 15 will be a Major Disrupter

SCP’s Economic Growth Monitor

 

California’s Proposition 15 will be a major disrupter to commercial and industrial real estate owners in California, if approved by the state’s voters on November 3.   Prop. 15 comes as other California and city initiatives for increasing taxes, are also up for voter approval in November.  A couple of these additional initiatives includes San Francisco’s Proposition I and the state’s AB 2088 that would establish 0.4% tax on wealth.

 

The ballot initiative is a major challenge to California’s historic Prop. 13 property tax measure approved by voters in 1978, which was later upheld on challenge in the U.S. Supreme Court.

 

The ballot proposition title reads:  “increases funding sources for public schools, community colleges, and local government services by changing tax assessment of commercial and industrial property.”   On the state’s voter guide website, the initiative is summarized in this way:  “Taxes such properties based on current market value, instead of purchase price. Fiscal Impact: Increased property taxes on commercial properties worth more than $3 million providing $6.5 billion to $11.5 billion in new funding to local governments and schools.”

 

As with other California ballot measures that would increase funding and spending, there is no safeguard that such increased taxes on commercial real estate owners would find its way to local government or local schools.

 

California’s proposition 15 will be a major disrupter in several ways.  First, commercial (shopping centers, office buildings, etc.) and industrial real estate owners would see a decrease in the cash flow and value of their properties.   This would mean a direct deleterious impact on the resale value of their properties.  Conceivably, some property owners with long-held properties may need to sell if their new property tax assessments prove to be onerous.

 

Second, for any commercial real estate held on a NNN (so-called triple net) basis, typically retail and restaurant tenants, this property tax increase would be directly passed along to such tenants as their responsibility.   Presumably, these retailers and restaurants would then attempt to increase their prices to consumers, an unintended consequence and example for how California’s proposition 15 will be a major disrupter.

 

 

California's Proposition 15 will be a Major Disrupter, if Approved

California’s Prop. 15 could be a major CRE disrupter if approved by voters in November.

 

ACE Act for conservation
Conservation Act Passes Congress, Now Heads to President’s Desk

SCP’s The Growth Monitor

 

In a bi-partisan vote, a next conservation act has passed the U.S. Senate.   The unanimous vote in the Senate pertains to America’s Conservation Enhancement Act, S. 3051 (the “ACE Act”), a package of natural resource management and conservation provisions.  The House of Representatives is expected to take up the legislation, and vote, as early as next week.

 

SCP Growth Monitor update on October 1 – the House of Representatives has approved the ACE Act by voice vote; now the legislation goes to the President’s desk for signing.

 

Consideration of the Ace Act follows passage in August 2020 of the Great American Outdoors Act, widely considered one of the landmark legislative achievements to protect America’s natural environment.

 

The legislation authorizes the National Fish Habitat Partnership, an endeavor that brings together local, state and federal partners to coordinate and conduct on-the-ground aquatic habitat restoration projects for the benefit of recreational fishing.   The ACE Act also reauthorizes and boosts funding for programs critical to the health of the Chesapeake Bay, the nation’s largest estuary and a critical nursery for sport fish throughout the Atlantic region.

 

As the bi-partisan Conservation Act passes Senate consideration, attention now focuses on regional benefit.  The ACE Act is expected to be a strong boost to recreational economic development in the region.  The Chesapeake Bay is the largest estuary in the U.S., and is also a critical sportfish nursery for the greater Atlantic region.

Truck Tonnage Declines in 2020
Truck Tonnage Declines in 2020, Through August

SCP’s The Economic Growth Monitor

 

Truck tonnage declines in 2020 included the fifth consecutive year-over-year decline in the U.S., through August 2020.   Freight transportation is a barometer of U.S. economic health, making monthly truck tonnage estimates a key indicator for local economic development officials.

 

Trucking represents an estimated 72.5% of tonnage carried by all modes.  According to American Trucking Associations, in 2019 trucks hauled 11.84 billion tons of freight.  The American Trucking Associations is the largest national trade association for the trucking industry.

 

Transport Topics reports on truck tonnage throughout the year.  Their most recent recap is available here: Tonnage Declines 8.9% Year-Over-Year in August

 

The American Trucking Associations’ press release about truck tonnage declines in 2020 is available here: Index 8.9% below August 2019.   According to the ATA, the apparent softness in truck tonnage was due to softness in the industrial and energy industries where truck loads are heavier, than any softness in consumer-related loads.   Fleets hauling for retailers reported strong freight volumes.  ATA calculates  U.S. tonnage volumes and index based on surveys from its membership and has been doing so since the 1970’s.

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