By Ann Kelly
The National League of Cities University Communities Council (UCC) had the opportunity to continue expanding its partnerships and reach by participating at the Annual Meeting of the International Town and Gown Association (ITGA) in June in Richmond, Kentucky at Eastern Kentucky University (EKU).
"The University Communities Council is well-positioned to promote relationships among education policy, investment, and economic actors," said UCC Chair Nancy Chaney, Mayor of Moscow, ID. "Local governments see firsthand the value of an educated workforce in attracting business, creating living wage jobs, responding to expectations for innovative capacity, and gaining a competitive edge. It is imperative that cities and universities work together to attract students and create jobs and quality of life to retain them after graduation."
UCC-sponsored conference sessions included a case study in successful University-Community Economic Development (Unmanned Aerial Systems at the University of North Dakota) and an engaging discussion on working with Young Professional (YP) organizations to build valuable bridges between universities and communities for young people crossing from one to the other. This discussion brought to light some of the great work being done by YP organizations in university communities and how they are making the communities more attractive for young people - including recent college grads - to live, learn, work and play.
UCC members were represented by moderator Pete Haga, UCC Vice Chair and Community/Government Relations Officer, Mayor's Office, City of Grand Forks, ND, and panelist Jim Hunt, NLC Past President, Councilmember, Clarksburg, WV and UCC Steering Committee member. Panelists also included representatives from NLC member communities: Quad Cities "Network" Director Anne Spoden and Grand Forks,ND, Young Professionals Executive Director Stacey Heggen.
During the conference, a group of about 20 people attended a breakfast session for mayors, university presidents, city managers and other campus and municipal officials. Panelists for the session included: Dr. Doug Whitlock, President, Eastern Kentucky University; Jim Barnes, Mayor, Richmond, KY; Dr. Lesley Di Mara, President, Colorado State University; and Haga. The session was moderated by Tom Fountaine, Borough Manager of State College, PA. (Click here to listen to NPR-affiliate station WEKU-FM's broadcast of this session.)
"This really was a good way to network with people who were similarly minded as UCC members and to raise the awareness of the valuable discussions we've been having at our UCC meetings," said Haga. "We are fortunate to have opportunities with partners like the ITGA and the ability to be mutually supportive in providing value to our membership."
For more information about the UCC, visit NLC's webpage.