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MSA Regional Governance

How are the MSA’s being governed? In a word, they are “not”. However, there are in place, throughout the U.S., many regional governance models that offer support to the MSA’s.  But none are using the MSA building block as the basis of their regional planning model. We can characterize many of the current regional governance models as deliberate efforts, by multiple entities, to achieve common goals, at different levels of governance, with and among multiple jurisdictions and political bodies.

There are many characteristics of the regional governance models that would lend themselves to using the MSA as the basis of their cooperation. Regional governance crosses many jurisdictional borders including County, City and State and functions on the level of maintaining regional environmental, economic, regulatory authority and compliance goals and laws. The regional governance bodies can be political entities or civic minded entities. They can serve as civic institutions, regional planning boards and offer GIS tools and analysis for planning.  And they represent established channels by which they may initiate and implement planning, policy and decisions making responsibilities required to achieve actionable objectives. The main purpose of the regional entity is to establish regional goals, resolve regional problems and maximize the region’s economic vitality.  In many cases, it is a quasi official political entity that may or may not need consensus or use cooperation as its dominant mode of operation to achieve its end goals. In the majority of its interactions it may or may not attempt to exercise power on behalf of the interests, ideas, and values of the regional electorate. Regional governance is not the end in itself and it is but one of the many means by which regional goals and ambitions can be achieved.

Typically there is a Metropolitan Council that serves as the main coordinating body for a metropolitan region. Some of the areas of expertise that they coordinate include: cooperative purchasing, environmental coordination, community planning, maps and data and transportation planning. In many instates, there are various regional plans in the planning or implementation phases. One of the major planning goals of any regional plan is to analyze growth patterns and minimize their impact on the environment by identifying and minimizing sprawl and implementing sustainable growth strategies. The regional entity may or may not have any political clout based on their particular political realities and political circumstances. However, the goals of a regional entity or governance body and the goals of the Metropolitan Statistical Area are one in the same.

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