Last year Bleeding Heartland discussed some promising changes in Dubuque, thanks to the vision of community leaders who launched the SustainableDubuque initiative in 2006. Now called the “Dubuque 2.0” sustainability initiative, the program has helped bring the city a long list of recognitions and awards.
Government and public entities: The U.S. Conference of Mayors named Dubuque the country’s “Most Livable Small City” for 2008. The Economic Development Administration (an agency within the federal Commerce Department) gave the an award for “excellence in historic preservation-led strategies” in 2009. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Transportation and Department of Housing and Urban Development selected Dubuque for sustainability pilot programs, also in 2009. The Iowa League of Cities named Dubuque an All-Star Community this year.
Business groups and business-oriented media: Dubuque landed on Sperling’s Best Places top ten “Most Affordable Places to Live and Work” in 2009; was third best in the country for job growth, according to Careerbuilder.com in 2010; and was the seventh best city under 200,000 population in “Economic Growth Potential,” according to Business Facilities magazine in 2010. Dubuque also won an Excellence in Economic Development award this year from the International Economic Development Council, while Forbes.com named it both the “Best Small City to Raise a Family” and “Best Smaller Metro for Projected Job Growth” nationwide.
Non-profit organizations: Dubuque came in third place at the International Awards for Livable Communities in 2010 in the category of cities with populations between 20,000 and 75,000. The city won the 1000 Friends of Iowa 2010 Best Development Award in the leadership category for its recently adopted Unified Development Code, which “promotes best practices in sustainable development and will serve as a model for other cities in Iowa.” (Side note: Dubuque also contains more private Best Development Award winning-projects than any other Iowa city. Most recently, the “beauty and authenticity” of the Hotel Julien historic rehabilitation earned it the 1000 Friends of Iowa 2010 Best Development Award in the renovated and commercial/civic category.)
Too many Iowa politicians portray eco-friendly policies as bad for business or economic growth. Dubuque is proving that sustainability makes a community more attractive to potential job-creators:
According to Mike Blouin, president of the Greater Dubuque Development Corporation, the cachet that comes with operating a business in a sustainable region is becoming increasingly important.
“A growing segment of companies — manufacturers and service providers — want to be a part of this trend,” he said. “They want to be a part of communities that are into sustainability, and they believe it will be easier to attract the kind of workforce they want there. Or companies may manufacture items used in these sustainable communities. Whatever it might be, they want sustainability to be a part of their message.”
He added, “You can be pro-economic development and be sustainable. They’re not mutually exclusive. A smarter city is not the initial thing companies look at, because they still have to make money. The community has to make sense overall, but if it does, sustainability could very well be a deal-maker. If there are a half-dozen cities in front of a company, it may look at smarter sustainability and see that it fits the company’s philosophy. Final decisions are made by those kinds of factors.”
In 2009, the IBM corporation renovated the historic Roshek building in partnership with the city of Dubuque and selected the city for sustainability pilot programs. After the jump I’ve posted more details on some projects implemented this year. These benefit the city by finding ways to reduce costs and use of resources, and benefit IBM by promoting technologies it hopes to sell to other cities.