Weekly B-MOW: Adventures at the White House!

As I mentioned in last week’s (similarly late) B-MOW, I spent last Friday afternoon at the White House, in a meeting facilitated by the Brookings Institute with about two dozen senior Administration officials. And I know that we do a lot of big time things around here, but a cozy sit down in the Old Executive Office Building? You can bet that’s going to qualify as the Best Meeting of the Week! Here’s the lowdown from the Secretary of War Suite:

You all know that we’ve been working with Brookings over the last year on the Metropolitan Business Plan initiative . I always describe it to people as a pilot project to answer a very common sense question: “can you plan for your region’s economy using the discipline of business planning?” To Brookings, this is a very important question because – if the answer is yes – they think it could transform the way that the federal government interacts with metropolitan regions. Rather than applying through fifteen different grant programs to get economic development projects done, regions would bring their comprehensive business plan to the federal government, which could invest in these projects like a VC or a bank would and then measure the return on that investment.

Brookings has been working to get the Administration to buy into this concept, and the work that our region has done – along with Twin Cities and Northeast Ohio – to actually develop Metropolitan Business Plans is supposed to be proof of concept to show that it can be done. Which made the meeting on Friday in the White House important to Brookings as a policy opportunity…and important to us as a way to solicit federal investment in our Building Energy-Efficiency Testing and Integration (BETI) Center and Demonstration Network.

And it went very well! The quote from the meeting’s senior staff member was “My sense from folks was that the detail Puget Sound provided was of great interest to folks and helped the federal staff start to visualize how their programs might support their work.” A very good first step, but clearly there is much work to do (as much as I hoped that someone would just whip out a checkbook and start funding, I suppose that was an unreasonable expectation). But we’ve got a good foot in the door to get BETI some major federal support, and some good new relationships to help make that happen. We’ll bring this all to the first meeting of the BETI Implementation Committee this Thursday…which might be this coming week’s B-MOW!

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