Identifying Opportunity Occupations in the Nation’s Largest Metropolitan Economies

article image
Opportunity occupations are jobs that pay workers at
least the national annual median wage, adjusted for
differences in local consumption prices, and are generally
accessible for a worker without a bachelor’s degree.
This study focused on the 100 largest metropolitan economies in the U.S.

Spotlight

City of Lowell

A crossroad of commerce and creativity, the City of Lowell is a diverse urban environment. Named one of the best places to live by Boston Magazine, the City is characterized by its established arts community, distinct residences and commercial vitality. The fourth largest city in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Lowell is home to an eclectic mix of cultural attractions and events including the Lowell Folk Festival, Lowell National Historical Park, Lowell Memorial Auditorium and the Tsongas Arena. A leader in urban redevelopment, Lowell offers a variety of residential and commercial space from renovated mills to modern high-rises. Strategically located at the intersections of Routes 495, 93 and 3, Lowell has established itself as a leading business and entertainment destination throughout Massachusetts and Greater New England.

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5 (free) things governments can do to reposition for the future

Article | May 27, 2021

Over the last year, we’ve all witnessed years of digital transformation in a matter of months. A recent survey from the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), sponsored by Microsoft, shows that government respondents were the second-most likely group (after financial services) to report increased investment in digital transformation since the start of the pandemic. As governments around the world continue to look to technology and innovation to respond to the challenges of today, here are five (free) things governments are doing to step-change the way they can achieve their economic, social, and sustainability objectives in the future.

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Cities, counties launching projects to reach sustainability goals

Article | September 4, 2020

Motorists and automobile lovers are already noticing rather rapid change. Sustainability goals adopted by elected officials at cities and counties are continuing to promote projects that support walking, biking, and using public transportation. Housing density, walkable communities, technology enhancement and convenient public transportation are the goals. Parking options are being reduced. Automobiles are being banned on many community streets, and cities are adding parks, entertainment venues, affordable housing, and more retail. Mixed use development, biking lanes, and convenient transportation options for non-motorized travel are the goal. The arguments for such changes are that people will be healthier and safer, the air will be cleaner, and there will be more options for people with disabilities. The trend is called ‘livable and walkable communities,’ and as it sweeps through the country, it opens up thousands of partnering opportunities between public entities and private sector contractors. Indiana The city of Indianapolis plans to add more sidewalks throughout the city and has commissioned an inventory to determine how many and which streets don’t have a sidewalk. The results of that study will be published by the end of 2020. The city, which covers 360 square miles, has approximately 8,400 lane miles of streets. Indiana’s Department of Transportation maintains about one-third of the state’s sidewalks, and the cities are responsible for the rest. The study is part of the Indy Moves plan, a long-range planning document that combines walking, biking, and public transportation goals. More than 400 projects are outlined that include building new roads, developing greenways, upgrading existing roads with sidewalks, and constructing more bike lanes. Adding sidewalks to every street without them could cost more than $1 billion. The sidewalks, however, appear to be a high priority because city officials have pledged net zero carbon emissions by 2050 and that requires fewer automobiles in the city. Texas In August, the city of Houston approved a plan that is built around walkable places and transit-oriented programs that encourage pedestrian-friendly spaces. The city, like many others throughout the country, will work to promote mixed-use development designed for walkability. For three years, the city has studied ways to make neighborhoods more walkable. Its new plan lists Midtown, Emancipation Avenue, and the Northside as the first places of high focus. Ordinances will be effective beginning October 1. Some of the first initiatives include the construction of facades closer to the road, expansion of sidewalks and relocation of parking lots to the side or rear of buildings. Additionally, the ordinances call for additional bike parking standards in areas that are within a half-mile walking distance from Metro transit station platforms. New Hampshire The Southern New Hampshire Planning Commission recently unveiled its Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) Plan. The document outlines projects that include constructing streets and paths that encourage walking and biking. It calls for developing safer intersections and compact and well-signed city blocks. The city of Manchester has applied for a $25 million federal grant to will help fund a pedestrian bridge and the addition of a new street to help alleviate traffic congestion around the Southern New Hampshire University parking garage. City leaders hope to know by November if their grant request has been approved. If so, projects related to improving connectivity and walkability will be launched. The plan calls for an approximate $125 million investment, but the projects could unlock $600 million more in anticipated development. The new developments are expected to include a facility for 1,802 residential units, a hotel with 154 rooms, 785,000 square feet of office space, and 198,000 square feet of retail space. Illinois The city of Chicago has announced an initiative called INVEST South/West. This plan commits $750 million of public funds for projects in 12 commercial corridors in 10 neighborhoods. The objective of this plan is to improve streetscapes and public and also strengthening transportation networks and repurposing vacant lots for public amenities and affordable housing. Currently, three solicitation documents have been released for one neighborhood but numerous others will be released in coming months for projects in other neighborhoods. The initial solicitation documents call for proposals by November 24 with construction to begin by the end of 2020. Projects outlined for the various neighborhoods were developed through a months-long community-engagement process, and the developers and contractors will be expected to begin work quickly. California The city of Modesto has approved a 20-year plan that calls for bicycle lanes as well as widening and enhancing of sidewalks. Other projects are also planned with the overall objective of making neighborhoods more convenient for non-drivers and encouraging foot traffic and bicycles. City leaders point out that the downtown area has strong office, restaurant, and entertainment sectors, but there is a desire to reduce automobile traffic. Denser housing options and the encouragement of transportation options that include walking and biking are the goal. Construction of new home sites, retail, and other uses will be left to developers. City leaders plan to replace the Stanislaus County Courthouse and adjacent jail to make that property available for new, denser home sites. A pedestrian-friendly route would lead to the Tuolumne River. Georgia Clayton County and the cities of Sandy Springs, Savannah, and Valdosta were selected for funding in Georgia Tech's 2020 Georgia Smart Communities Challenge. Each region will receive $100,000 in grant funding to be used for planning purposes. The Clayton County Smart Pedestrian Planning project outlines plans to promote mobility, equity, and the identification of smart technologies to support walkability in communities. Sidewalk data will be collected, and the county will oversee the selection of pilot projects in locations that represent different neighborhood typologies. The first projects will be studied for future development of additional regions. Cities and counties throughout the country are rushing to meet sustainability goals and these efforts are resulting in an abundance of contracting opportunities for developers, engineering firms, construction companies, landscape firms, and technology providers. Mary Scott Nabers is president and CEO of Strategic Partnerships Inc., a business development company specializing in government contracting and procurement consulting throughout the U.S. Her recently released book, Inside the Infrastructure Revolution: A Roadmap for Building America, is a handbook for contractors, investors and the public at large seeking to explore how public-private partnerships or joint ventures can help finance their infrastructure projects.

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How Computer-Aided Design Is Used in Government

Article | June 24, 2020

Federal agencies design a wide range of tools, equipment, vehicles and even rockets. Computer-aided design (CAD) technology allows agencies and users to create digital designs more efficiently. CAD is used for a lot more than designing buildings, but is a basic building block of a more advanced tool known as Building Information Modeling, or BIM. CAD can be used to render 2D digital models of products, equipment and buildings. BIM takes those efforts to the next level and serves as a 3D design tool to “create and simulate how a building would operate,” says Andrew Friendly, associate vice president of government affairs at Autodesk, a leading CAD and BIM firm.

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2021 will be an excellent year for technology firms

Article | August 21, 2020

Cities, counties, and states are being forced to upgrade or purchase new technology. The old legacy systems are now inadequate, inefficient, and somewhat dangerous because of their vulnerability to hacking. Many of the old systems are almost completely obsolete. They are unable to accommodate new applications. In today’s data driven world, technology modernization leads to less cost, increases in efficiency, fewer requirements for human resources, and huge increases in convenience for citizens. Research on numerous capital improvement plans for cities, counties, and states reveals that funding is being allocated for major technology purchases and upgrades throughout the country. Massachusetts In a bill just signed by the governor, the Act Financing the General Governmental Infrastructure of the Commonwealth, $660 million has been allocated for information technology (IT) needs. Community colleges are scheduled to receive $140 million for cybersecurity, software, hardware, and infrastructure upgrades. Public schools will be eligible for competitive matching grants from a program that received $50 million. Much of the education funding will be used for access to broadband and other digital learning curricula. The IT funding includes $10 million for a statewide data sharing system for all criminal justice agencies and $10 million for the state’s Department of Health. Cities and counties in Massachusetts also will receive funding. Sommerville’s need to acquire modern backup IT appliances and disaster and cybersecurity projects will get funding. The county of Berkshire is granted funding for a study to determine the cost of constructing a municipal broadband network. Avon will receive funding to move the township’s financial software to the cloud for increased security, and Easton will get funding for an e-permitting geographic information system and some technology-based service delivery software. Texas City leaders in Houston plan to spend millions to upgrade some outdated technology. The current computer-aided dispatch (CAD) system is more than 13 years old and has limited functionalities. The city's public safety department is in need of a new system to efficiently respond to police, fire, and medical calls for services. Funding allocations are outlined in the city’s 2021-2025 Capital Improvement Plan. The public safety CAD replacement is scheduled to receive $1 million, and the city has allocated $2.2 million for new budgeting software. Nevada The Las Vegas Public Works Department plans to procure a software solution for the city’s capital improvement project program management system (CPMS). The department is challenged with aging IT infrastructure, reduced resources, and currently, each phase of the CPMS uses separate software applications. This is labor intensive and ineffective. The plan is to have one software solution that tracks and manages all phases of the CPMS, including concept, planning, design, permitting, construction, and closeout. The city has budgeted $350,000 each year from 2021-2025 to complete this project. Virginia The city of Norfolk plans to upgrade its Department of Utilities’ billing system at a cost of $2 million. Over two years, city leaders plan to spend $4 million per year to purchase IT infrastructure. Purchases will include public safety radios, courthouse equipment, an electronic health record system, security appliances, a cybersecurity assessment, and upgrades to e-services platform. The city of Portsmouth will upgrade its financial software beginning in 2021 with full implementation by 2024. The project will include software and hardware upgrades and the streamlining of third-party software. Beginning in 2022, the city will purchase record retention software to house permanent, and eventually all, citywide digital records. Plans also call for updating the city’s public safety records management/computer aided dispatch system at a cost of $900,000. New software will improve mobile computing and analysis tools, management dashboards, and multijurisdictional expandable capabilities for future potential collaborations with surrounding communities. Pennsylvania The city of Philadelphia’s Office of Innovation and Technology has a total of $153.6 million in city tax-supported funding programmed over its six-year FY21-FY26 capital program. Of the $22.5 million recommended, $8.67 million is for major upgrades for network infrastructure stabilization and enhancement. Another $13.83 million will support citywide departmental applications. This funding will be used for replacement of an old tax legacy system, a new personnel accountability system for the fire department, an integrated jail management system, and an enterprise resource platform modernization effort for procurement, accounting, and logistics. In 2021, the city also will design and implement a new fare collection system at a cost of $1.54 million to replace or enhance the current revenue collection equipment. North Carolina The Forsyth County Board of County Commissioners has approved a 2020-2021 annual budget which includes a $6.2 million enterprise resource planning system. The county’s budget, finance, and human resources software programs are in critical need of replacement. In Chatham County, there are plans to replace the current tax office software at a cost of $1 million, and the current software is being evaluated for new purchases. Oregon The city of Salem’s Information Technology Department has announced plans to update its financial system at a cost of $650,000. This upgrade is needed to maintain support of the application and increase functionality. The city also plans to update its enterprise storage array at a cost of $250,000. This equipment is primarily used for enterprise applications including financial services, cash handling, parking, utility billing, police records, and other city records flagged for retention purchases. There is absolutely no doubt – 2021 will be a good year for companies that have new technology to sell to public officials. Mary Scott Nabers is president and CEO of Strategic Partnerships Inc., a business development company specializing in government contracting and procurement consulting throughout the U.S. Her recently released book, Inside the Infrastructure Revolution: A Roadmap for Building America, is a handbook for contractors, investors and the public at large seeking to explore how public-private partnerships or joint ventures can help finance their infrastructure projects.

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Spotlight

City of Lowell

A crossroad of commerce and creativity, the City of Lowell is a diverse urban environment. Named one of the best places to live by Boston Magazine, the City is characterized by its established arts community, distinct residences and commercial vitality. The fourth largest city in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Lowell is home to an eclectic mix of cultural attractions and events including the Lowell Folk Festival, Lowell National Historical Park, Lowell Memorial Auditorium and the Tsongas Arena. A leader in urban redevelopment, Lowell offers a variety of residential and commercial space from renovated mills to modern high-rises. Strategically located at the intersections of Routes 495, 93 and 3, Lowell has established itself as a leading business and entertainment destination throughout Massachusetts and Greater New England.

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