A Practical Pathway to Prioritize Resilient Projects in Small Counties

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Through our involvement with community resilience assessments and planning at the local government level, the IBTS resilience team has discovered that local governments can struggle with resilience project prioritization and selection. Given the variety of projects that can be categorized under the resilience umbrella, local stakeholders may find themselves trying to evaluate the benefits of a building code update against a flood mitigation program or replacing aging infrastructure. With limited staff and financial resources, local government leaders must also be prepared to justify and stand behind their decision to fund one project over another.

To identify and gain support for the most impactful resilience projects, we recommend taking a structured approach based on a uniform set of evaluation criteria. This approach allows for data-based assessments that clearly distinguish the benefits and drawbacks to one project over another – no matter how diverse the projects under consideration may be – but also provides local stakeholders with the justification they need for funding and community buy-in.

IBTS created the Community Resilience Assessment Framework and Tools (CRAFT), which provides a set of criteria for small jurisdictions to evaluate their social, economic and government resilience, to help local governments navigate the project prioritization and selection process.

Local communities can use CRAFT to perform a baseline resilience assessment of their existing resilience strengths and vulnerabilities, and also use the same criteria to assess a proposed project’s impact on their baseline resilience score. Once a community selects a project, we can also facilitate resilience workshops that help communities further refine their project goals and how resilience fits into them.

To help communities get started with the project prioritization process, the creators of CRAFT offer the following pieces of advice. You can see our full resilience project prioritization guidance on IBTSOnHAND.org.

  • Collect and analyze data related to the following questions about the social, economic, environmental and government resilience impacts of each project:
    1. Does the project solve a root problem or only a symptom?
    2. What will the social impact of the project be?
    3. How might the project impact future development?
    4. How does this project contribute to environmental sustainability?
    5. What are the available funding sources (public, private, philanthropic, other) for the project?
  • Integrate stakeholder input from all government agencies and sectors of the community to ensure buy-in and transparency throughout the whole community.
  • Don’t take a one-sized-fits-all approach, assess how projects can leverage your existing assets, and account for your local hazards.
  • Consider collateral benefits of potential projects – the best resilience projects will serve multiple purposes and provide a host of secondary benefits, such as job creation, land reuse, decreased environmental impacts, bankable income, or increased tourism revenue.

 

Read more about our CRAFT assessment tool here, and learn more about how our additional resilience services can help your community get started with the resilience planning and project prioritization processes.

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