October 25, 2021 

For Immediate Release  

Contact: Mary Afuso                                                                           

Regional Disaster Recovery Manager                                                        

361.960.9203 | mary@coastalbendcog.org 
                                                              


Coastal Bend Council of Governments Receives National Association of Development Organizations 2021 Impact Award 

CORPUS CHRISTI – Coastal Bend Council of Governments (CBCOG) has received a 2021 Aliceann Wohlbruck Impact Award from the National Association of Development Organizations (NADO) for the Regional Resiliency Partnership (RRP) initiative. 

In 2020, CBCOG formed the RRP in partnership with the Harte Research Institute at Texas A&M Corpus Christi.  The partnership enables CBCOG to bring economic development capacity to cities and counties that otherwise don’t have the resources.  So far, the RRP has provided resilience training to County Judges and other stakeholders, developed a geospatial initiative that will provide real time GIS data to community leaders and assisted in grant writing and support to bring millions of dollars in infrastructure funding to the region.  RRP uses the Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS) to determine which projects to champion.  

NADO is a Washington, DC-based membership association of regional development organizations that promote programs and policies that strengthen local governments, communities, and economies through regional cooperation, program delivery, and comprehensive strategies.  The association’s Impact Awards program recognizes regional development organizations and their partners for improving the economic and community competitiveness of our nation’s regions and local communities.   

“Being recognized by NADO is a great honor,” said Emily Martinez, Director of Regional Economic Development at Coastal Bend Council of Governments.  “NADO recognizes major community initiatives such as COVID-19 response and recovery initiatives, workforce and economic development projects, and other strategies to improve quality of life. We’ve only just begun our work with RRP, but this tells us we are moving in the right direction.”   

The NADO Impact Awards are presented in honor of the late Aliceann Wohlbruck who was NADO’s first executive director and served 24 years as a tireless champion for regional approaches to economic development in rural communities. 

For more information about this award-winning project, contact Mary Afuso at mary@coastalbendcog.org.                                                                                                      

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Regional Resilience Partnership: Coastal Bend Council of Governments with Thr Harte Research Institute at TAMUCC

Regional Resilience Partnership (RRP) is a collaboration designed to build the capacity of communities to strengthen resilience and mitigate disaster risk.

The RRP is a collaboration between the Coastal Bend Council of Governments (CBCOG) and the Harte Research Institute (HRI) for Gulf of Mexico Studies at Texas A&M Corpus Christi.  RRP focuses on serving the 11 county region served by CBCOG.

The RRP is different from other collaborations in the focus on physically bringing resources to the community, rather than merely creating a clearinghouse for stakeholders to access.

The RRP envisions communities in the region being resilient to disaster events and environmental change, becoming leaders in advancing innovative, yet grounded solutions.  The RRP sends weekly RRP news to stakeholders, as well as offers technical support and guidance.  The RRP pursues funding for communities to build capacity and reach resilience goals.  The RRP uses the data from the Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS) produced by CBCOG to assist stakeholders to accomplish the goals set forth.

Because most of the communities in the 11 county area are rural, most lack staff to provide anything beyond day to day operations.  The RRP provides support and staff to assist in applying for grants and programs for underserved communities, allowing the communities to become aspirational in serving their communities.

Coastal Bend Council of Governments is one of the 2 partners.  Emily Martinez worked directly with Dr. Katya Wowk of HRI to develop the MOU, apply for funds, hire staff, produce marketing materials, produce the training, and develop projects. 

Because most of the stakeholders are understaffed, CBCOG provides staff to do the yeoman's work required to accomplish the goals set forth in the CEDS. 

The GeoRED staff is hired and housed at CBCOG and the Resilience training is hosted and staffed at CBCOG. 

The RRP secured $10,000 in funding to provide state of the art training to community leaders on how to build a resilient citizenry. 

The RRP also secured a three year grant to create Geospatial Resilient Economic Development (GeoRED), which will provide communities with access to real-time data on community assets, hazards and unique data to enable rapid response to disaster.  GeoRed currently serves Bee, Refugio, Aransas and San Patricio Counties, but RRP is securing funding to expand the project to additional counties.

The RRP applied for a Downtown Revitalization Grant on behalf of the City of Rockport to repair blighted sidewalks.

The RRP is working on a project with leaders in rural counties which, if funded, will result in significant economic and workforce development.

The RRP uses the Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS) as the springboard to determine which projects to undertake. 

In meeting with Judges, Mayors and Commissioners throughout the region, the overarching message was that communities know what needs to be done, but lack the funds, staff and the connections to make it happen.  RRP seeks to fill that gap by facilitating action planning, assisting in grant writing and project management, and providing timely information.

This project brings resources and connections to heavily impoverished rural areas. All counties in the region have over a 14% poverty rate Five out of 11 Counties have over 20% poverty rate.  According to US Census Bureau, Brooks County is the 28th most impoverished county in the United States.  (source https://www.census.gov/newsroom/press-releases/2020/acs-5-year.html).  Disasters such as hurricanes, deep freezes and pandemics take a greater toll on these communities.  RRP works hand in hand with these communities to build resilience and prosperity.

 

Contact:

Coastal Bend Council of Governments

Emily Martinez

Director of Regional Economic Development

emily@coastalbendcog.org

The Coastal Bend Council of Governments (CBCOG) was formed in 1966. In 1973 the CBCOG was designated an Economic Development District (EDD) by the U.S. Economic Development Administration to coordinate regional economic development priorities. The CBCOG is one of 24 Councils of Government in the State of Texas serving as the Economic Development District and covers an 11-county region. The CBCOG develops and implements regional economic development strategies with the support from the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) through the development of a Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS).

CEDS is a strategy-driven plan for regional economic development. It is a planning process designed to build capacity and guide the economic prosperity and resiliency of a region resulting in a document by which input from the region’s public and private stakeholders establishes a strategic blueprint for regional collaboration and prosperity.

The CEDS is required by the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) and is considered a priority for all of EDA’s programs. The CEDS must be updated at least every five years and is meant to look forward and address a strategy for the next five years.

The EDA works in partnership with the CBCOG as the designated Economic Development District for the region. Through the EDA Planning Grant, the CBCOG provides support to distressed communities within the region to address problems associated with long-term economic distress as well as sudden and severe economic dislocations including recovering from the economic impacts of natural disasters, the closure of military installations and other federal facilities. The EDD staff serves as the local affiliate to the Texas State Data Center which is responsible for the census.

The Economic Development staff can be retained to administer individual grants for municipalities, counties and other eligible applicants who lack staff support. While the EDD staff does not write applications, staff can provide information and guidance in the development of grant applications.

Emily Martinez - Director of Regional Economic Development

 

Mary Afuso - Regional Disaster Recovery Manager

 

Shelby Simms - Community Outreach Coordinator