Principles and Recommendations for Effective Regional Collaboration
The overarching argument for regional collaboration is that many of the challenges facing communities and local governments are of a scale and complexity beyond the resources, capacity, and expertise of any single entity to tackle on its own. Only by working across jurisdictions, service territories, and sectors can there be possibilities for action and change. The premise for this project has been that urban and rural places are inherently interconnected and thus, collaboration that embraces both rural and urban interests is not only beneficial but essential for enhancing social and economic opportunity and health for all people and places within a region.
Rural-urban interactions are inherently complex and multi-layered; the literature review indicated this and case studies underscore the importance of this very basic observation. Another elemental finding: regional context matters; it influences the nature of rural-urban interactions as well as possible solutions to regional challenges. These two findings raise questions about the possible relevance and efficacy of universal, one-size-fits-all policy and practice responses. There, of course, echoes here of debates that have continued since the nation’s founding over the appropriate division of responsibilities and functions between the federal and state levels of government, and between those of state and local governments.
Nevertheless, there are several important principles that emerge from the case studies that can guide the creation and implementation of policies, strategies, and programs intended to advance regional collaboration so that these efforts are more likely to succeed. In our view, effective regional collaboration improves the social and economic conditions for all people and places within its region.
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