ARDC conducted a study to determine economic development impacts of the 2012 flood. ARDC collected information from all levels of government and held small group interviews to analyze gaps in data and identify lessons learned. Recommendations are paraphrased and summarized below. “A. Develop and Mobilize Micro Loans and Micro Grants for Disaster Response and Recovery. Micro loans and micro grants have been identified as a best practice for providing quick assistance to small businesses. The Northland Foundation’s Business Flood Recovery Fund has been cited as one of the most successful local response efforts following the 2012 floods. The program should be evaluated to learn how the region can keep the basic infrastructure of this program in place and how other groups can duplicate it or enhance it so that it can be remobilized even quicker in the aftermath of a future disaster. Micro loans should be explored as a source of assistance immediately following a disaster. Regional economic development funds, revolving loan funds and additional commercial lenders should examine their capacity and adopt disaster recovery lending programs that could be enacted immediately after future disasters. B. Maximize Planning and Zoning for Disaster Mitigation, Response, Recovery and Resiliency. 1. Land Use Planning: Decisions made before and after a disaster affect the resiliency and recovery of a community in the event of a disaster. Communities that integrate disaster resiliency into land use planning and development decisions can mitigate potential disaster impacts by: a. Integrating a hazard element into Comprehensive Plans, either as a stand-alone section or in discussion of other plan sections such as housing, infrastructure, and economic development. b. Assessing disaster vulnerability of sites in development plans. c. Encouraging development in less hazardous areas. d. Minimizing or mitigating vulnerable types of development in hazardous areas. e. Reducing disaster vulnerability through land use and zoning regulations. 2. Economic Development Planning. Recovery dictates long term success. The return of jobs, tourism, and capital investments are dependent on housing recovery, infrastructure restoration, environmental restoration, and social service provision. Communities should integrate disaster resiliency into economic development planning by: a. Assessing the unique needs and challenges for small businesses, large employers, economic diversification, and workforce/residents in the face of a disaster. b. Prioritizing economic development projects that are disaster resilient and fill a need in the post disaster community. c. Encouraging all physical projects to address disaster resiliency in the planning stage. 3. Infrastructure and Public Facilities: Restoration of infrastructure and public facilities is a prerequisite for recovery. Communities should prioritize long term infrastructure needs to take advantage of opportunity to upgrade, mitigate, or relocate infrastructure following a disaster. In the rush to rebuild, communities should be prepared to avoid repeating mistakes or missing opportunities to develop systems that will serve their residents and businesses better in the future. A disaster resiliency factor should be added to routine capital project planning. 4. Planning and Recovery Facilitation: To support community planning for and recovery from disasters, ARDC is available to work with communities on a project basis to: a. Offer a forum to convene diverse stakeholders and facilitate discussion and planning initiatives around the issues of economic resiliency and preparedness. b. Provide communities and businesses with regional demographic and economic data, hazard vulnerability and mitigation data, and disaster impact data. c. Establish familiarity with economic and community recovery funding sources and programs. d. Explore how ARDC’s revolving loan fund can be used to assist disaster impacted businesses. C. Improve information cataloging for long - term recovery and resiliency ARDC found that a lack of a one - stop portal for information on the evolving economic impact of the disaster is a challenge to long term planning and recovery efforts. A one - stop data repository may be best set up at the county and state levels. An up – to - date data repository can be useful for: • Developing and securing funding for recovery and resiliency programs and assessing the effectiveness of mitigation programs. (TIF districts, redevelopment programs, business continuity planning) • Establishing baseline to assess the long -term issues presented by future disasters in the region or elsewhere in the state. • Developing new local, regional, and state policies and programs. • Developing disaster profiles for use in community planning. • Developing tools and metrics for evaluating progress against set goals, objectives and milestones.
Arrowhead Regional Development Commission.
Northeast Minnesota Flash Flood Disaster - Economic Development Impact Study.
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