|Photo by Bob Brinkmann.|
This chapter is called Economic Development and Sustainability: A Case Study from Long Island New York, by Robert Brinkmann (me). The chapter begins with a review of how economic development has been a part of our modern economic world for generations. From the Department of Commerce to state and local government economic development offices, governments are deeply involved in trying to advance national, state, and local economic interests. Many industry organizations are also involved. For example, the California Association of Wine Growers works to advance the economic agendas of their members.
The chapters continues with a discussion of sustainability and economic development. Some major themes include public lands, water, energy, agriculture, food, transportation, building, land use, environmental justice, brownfields, pollution, and ecosystems. Businesses are searching for ways to become more authentic with their sustainability initiatives and are often searching for local partners where they can advance their business while enhancing local sustainability. For example, a large computer company may search for a location for a manufacturing site where they can help a region develop green energy sources. Or, a food company may wish to expand the amount of organic food they use by partnering with local food growers to ramp up their output. No matter the approach, sustainability is becoming a much bigger part of economic development in our modern era.
|More natural assets of Long Island: the impressive |
beach. Photo by Bob Brinkmann, your author, on left.
The chapter provides several examples of successful projects. For example, one project focused on growing the Peconic Bay scallop industry that declined decades ago. Improved water in the Bay suggested that reintroduction of the scallops in the Bay could greatly enhance the shellfishing industry in the area and the Long Island Economic Development team supported a range of initiatives to advance the restoration of the scallop industry.
The chapter notes that there are several lessons learned. Certainly economic development did not solve Long Island's sustainability problems. However, the fact that sustainability was infused in many of the projects was seen as a win for advancing a regional sustainability agenda. However, sustainability was not the only deciding factor in what got funded by the council. Some projects were funded that had negative impacts on the environment. In addition, because there were not clear sustainability benchmarking outcome metrics associated with the plans, it was hard to assess the overall success of the projects. Nevertheless, the Long Island region, which is largely considered suburban New York City, is one of the only suburban regions of the country to infuse sustainability within an economic development framework.
Here are some class discussion questions when using this chapter for a unit on green economic development.
1. What are some local examples of how our community sponsors a particular type of economic development in our region?
2. What groups are involved in local economic development in our area?
3. Economic leaders are keen to get involved with economic development. How do you think economic development advocates can ensure that projects don't become a form of local greenwashing?
4. Given the State of New York's economic strength, why do you think Governor Cuomo put so much emphasis on economic development during the Great Recession?
5. Why do you think Long Island emphasized sustainability and other regions of our country do not?
6. Benchmarking of success of economic development is largely focused on job or business creation. What alternative benchmarking tools could be developed around two of the major Long Island sustainability themes of agriculture and fisheries?
7. One of the three themes of Long Island's sustainability approach was protection of natural assets. Why do you think protection of these natural assets were so important to those interested in economic development?
8. If we were to start a green economic development project in our region, what types of projects would we support?
Previous Entries in This Series
Chapter 1: Sustainability Definitions, Historical Context, and Frameworks
Chapter 2. Sustainability and Natural Landscape Stewardship: A US Conservation Case Study
Chapter 3. Policy Design for Sustainability at Multiple Scales: The Case of Transboundary Haze Pollution in Southeast Asia
Chapter 4. Sustainable Water Resources Management: Groundwater Depletion
Chapter 12. Urban Social Sustainability: The Case Study of Nottingham, UK