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OEA, Your Local Community and Redevelopment Assistance

OEA Director, Patrick O’Brien, was in good company with fellow economic development experts – local government officials and community representatives, contracting officers, and private sector development and financial specialists – at the International Economic Development Council (IEDC) Federal Forum, held March 30, 2015, in Arlington, Virginia.

The economic development community was represented from all sectors, and at the crux of the conversation was one question, “How can communities, local governments and the federal government partner to best prepare defense-dependent communities for major defense changes?”

Director O’Brien, who leads OEA in its efforts to provide grant funding; high-touch, technical assistance; and a path forward for communities to work with their local military base or successfully redevelop after a defense change, discussed the ways that OEA can help communities. As OEA’s mission of “helping communities help themselves,” suggests, external assistance starts with the communities helping themselves. And though there is “lots of work to be done today on dependencies and how to prepare” you’re not in this alone, said Director O’Brien.

During his keynote address, he shared ways communities can help themselves in this time of uncertainty, ripe for preparation, partnerships and two-way communication:

  • Do your homework; know where your dependencies are.
    Even if BRAC, downsizing or realigning is not in your local base’s future, think instead about the cooperative land-use or planning considerations your community would benefit from discussing now. Compatible land use and community growth planning conversations (typically informed by a Joint Land Use Study (JLUS)) foster open communication and relationships between your community and the installation.
    Assess how defense-dependent your community is. Are there industrial manufacturing plants that help drive the economy in your community? What happens if they close? Start understanding those reliances now with help from a Defense Industry Adjustment introduction.
  • Think about redevelopment now in the event of future major defense changes.
    Take note of the regular upkeep that is occurring at the bases/ installations in and around your community. Are basic upkeep needs being met? Understand that in the absence of a BRAC, it’s likely bases will continue “hollowing out” and that those without regular upkeep will be in a state of disrepair; making for a harder transition to potential redevelopment.
    Think in terms of potential opportunities for redevelopment. Are the local bases/ installations up to code? Base regulations are often far different from city codes, and beyond getting the spaces up to code, what are the other considerations for a base installation in your community.
  • Keep an open dialogue with the local base and your community.
    Talk with your local base command; talk with the installations for updates. Also keep stakeholders in mind (community members, city officials, local organizations, businesses and government). Each has a part in making a potential installation redevelopment project or JLUS a success (and in some cases you may need partnership support to obtain an OEA grant).
    It is beneficial to have folks engaged and on board with the planning processes in advance, rather than having to talk about these types of planning issues on the fly.

So, what can OEA do to help with economic development now and in the future? Talk with us; hear the stories of other communities who’ve successfully redeveloped. See stories of OEA grantees utilizing the services, tools and assistance OEA has to offer.

For more specific information about OEA’s assistance programs – please visit Compatible Use (JLUS), BRAC or Defense Industry Adjustment (DIA).

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