Money Talks

Money Talks: Communicating economic benefits to build public support

Date: THURSDAY, OCTOBER 25, 2012
Time: 10.45 AM – 12.15 PM
Location: Kimmel Center, Room 406

Economic arguments for or against changes to city streets can be a catch-22. One anecdote of a business suffering due to lost parking or pedestrianization can be enough to sink a project, while the diffused benefits of street improvements can make it difficult to demonstrate their tangible value to the public and elected officials.  However, making an economic case for such projects is an ever more critical requirement to gain public support given increasingly limited funding and the imperative cities have to improve both their neighborhood economies and global competitiveness. Money Talks will bring participants up to date on the most current research quantifying the economic benefits of urban street improvements and will highlight specific examples where cities have utilized economic data to increase buy-in to specific projects or their overall programs.

Moderator: Mike Flynn, Director, Capital Planning & Project Initiation, New York City Department of Transportation

Michael Flynn serves as Director of Capital Planning and Project Initiation at the New York City Department of Transportation (NYCDOT) where he oversees the planning and project development of NYCDOT’s street construction and green infrastructure programs, ensuring that capital projects meet the City’s goal of safer, greener, more efficient and livable streets.  Prior work at NYCDOT has included co-authoring and coordinating the development of the New York City Street Design Manual and planning and implementing pedestrian plaza, bicycle path and traffic calming projects.  His experience spans transportation planning and engineering, public space and urban design, data analysis, policy and budgeting, with an emphasis on sustainable development.  Mr. Flynn is a graduate of the University of Vermont and received a Master of Science degree in City and Regional Planning from Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, where he currently serves as a visiting professor and faculty advisor.

1. Janet Attarian, Project Director, Streetscape and Sustainable Design Program, Chicago Department of Transportation

Janet L. Attarian, AIA, LEED AP is the Project Director for the Chicago Department of Transportation Streetscape and Sustainable Design Program and works to turn Chicago’s streetscapes, riverwalks, bike facilities and pocket parks into great urban places.  She has overseen the design and management of over 100 streetscape and urban design projects and her accomplishments include the City’s Streetscape Guidelines, the Congress Parkway reconstruction project, and the Millennium Park (now McDonalds) Bicycle Station.  Ms. Attarian’s ability to meld the concepts of complete streets and ecological design led to the development of the City’s Sustainable Streets Program and Green Alley Program, and her commitment to community involvement and placemaking lead to the development of the Make Way For People Program.

Ms. Attarian speaks around the country on complete streets and sustainable infrastructure and her work has been featured in the New York Times, and by PBS and the BBC. Ms. Attarian has been a licensed architect since 1996, and has a Master of Architecture degree from the University of Michigan.

2. Joe Cortright, President, Impresa Consulting, Senior Policy Advisor at CEOs for Cities

Joe Cortright is President and principal economist for Impresa, a Portland consulting firm specializing in regional economic analysis, innovation and industry clusters. Joe is also a non-resident Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution, and senior policy advisor for CEOs for Cities, a national organization of urban leaders. He has served as an advisor to state and local governments, private businesses, foundations and advocacy groups in more than a dozen states, Canada and Europe. Joe’s work casts a light on the role of knowledge-based industries in shaping regional economies. Joe’s latest report is City Vitals–a tool for benchmarking urban economic health–published by the national organization CEOs for Cities. Cortright is the author of three publications on industry clusters published by the Brookings Institution: Making Sense of Clusters (2006) — a review of academic literature on industry agglomeration — Signs of Life (2002) — a benchmark analysis of the clustering of the U.S. biotechnology industry and High Tech Specialization (2001). Cortright has also written extensively on the migration of talented young workers among metropolitan areas in a series of studies entitled The Young and Restless for cities around the nation. His work is quoted regularly in the media, in publications ranging from the Wall Street Journal and The New York Times to The Economist, Business Week and USA Today. Joe is currently Chair of the Oregon Governor’s Council of Economic Advisors, has served on the editorial board of Economic Development Quarterly, and is co-founder and editor of EconData.Net, the web’s leading guide to regional economic data. Prior to starting Impresa, Joe served for 12 years as the Executive Officer of the Oregon Legislature’s Trade and Economic Development Committee. Joe is a graduate of Lewis and Clark College and holds a Master’s degree in public policy from the University of California at Berkele.

3. Eric Lee, President, Bennett Midland


Eric Lee is President of Bennett Midland LLC, a management consulting company based in New York City. Mayors and government agencies, as well as the nation’s largest philanthropies, turn to Bennett Midland for support with strategy, operational improvements, and the development of state-of-the art information systems. For fifteen years, Eric has developed innovative solutions to address problems in criminal justice, urban planning, and community and economic development. He is a trusted advisor to elected officials, and senior government staff in New York and nationally. Eric served as a senior policy advisor for New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, where he developed initiatives that strengthened New York’s public safety policies, contributing to a historic drop in crime. Prior to working in the Mayor’s Office, Eric was a founding director of the Center for Court Innovation, a public and private partnership that promotes new thinking about how courts and communities solve difficult problems like addiction, quality-of-life crime, domestic violence, and child neglect. Eric serves on the board of directors of the Citizens Union of the City of New York and is a member of the planning committee of the Municipal Art Society. Eric holds a master’s degree in urban planning from the University of California, Los Angeles.