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Friday, March 24, 2017

New Alliance for Innovation in Local Government to Go Downtown

Two of the world’s leading organizations dedicated to advancing excellence in local government have chosen Arizona State University’s School of Public Affairs in downtown Phoenix as their partner and primary location for a unique consortium on innovation.

The International City/County Management Association (ICMA), based in Washington, D.C., and The Innovation Groups (IG) of Tampa, Fla., have joined with ASU to form an Alliance for Innovation in Local Government. IG will move its headquarters to the university’s downtown Phoenix campus. ASU was invited to compete with more than 200 other universities to be part of the New Alliance for Innovation in Local Government, and was selected from a list of 12 finalists.

ICMA is the preeminent local government professional and educational organization, comprising nearly 6,000 chief appointed managers, administrators and assistants in cities, towns, counties and regional entities throughout the world.

IG assists nearly 400 local governments in building and sustaining innovation by providing face-to-face networking opportunities and technology services in all areas of local government. IG will transition its 10 to 12 employees to downtown Phoenix from Tampa over the next year; the precise location of its new headquarters on the ASU Downtown Phoenix campus is yet to be finalized.

"This is an early and important dividend on our investment in the new ASU Downtown Phoenix campus,” said Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon. “By attracting this Alliance, the city and county enhance our shared reputation for excellence in local government and gain an important partner in constantly improving our services."

“This new partnership is a marvelous opportunity for us to play an even more significant role in urban management education, in research on the process of innovation, and in executive education,” said Robert Denhardt, director of the ASU School of Public Affairs. He described the top priorities of the Alliance as identifying major trends in local government and leading practices that can help local governments address major issues, providing effective research, and creating a repository of information on innovative practices and the process of innovation. Janet and Robert Denhardt, who have conducted innovation research in the city of Phoenix and Maricopa County, are among the faculty who will be conducting research for the Alliance.

Because of their similar focuses, both ICMA and IG recognized the need for university collaboration in research and technical assistance, and ASU’s School of Public Affairs was the perfect partner because of its national and international reputation in the field of urban management. ASU’s Marvin Andrews Graduate Program in Urban Management is considered one of the leading programs in urban management innovation.

The reputations of both the city of Phoenix and Maricopa County as well-run local governments, the involvement of former city and county leaders as faculty associates in the school, and the strength of interdisciplinary partners from across the university, such as The Decision Theatre, the Global Institute of Sustainability and the College of Design, all helped to bring the Alliance to ASU and Phoenix.

"We are excited to partner with ASU, and particularly the extraordinary faculty of the School of Public Affairs,” said ICMA Executive Director Robert O’Neill Jr., “as we help shape strategies for countless local governments and regions around the world to improve the effectiveness of critical public services and the quality of life in their communities.”

IG President Bob Hart noted, “Our organization’s historical strength has been member networks that identify and share emerging technology and management practices. This Alliance will not only greatly enhance this process but adds leading applied research and analysis about local governments from some of the top academicians in our field.”

Phoenix City Manager Frank Fairbanks is a long-time member of the ICMA and recipient of its Award for Excellence, the organization’s highest honor, in 2001. “As ICMA is approached by communities throughout the world for examples of best practices in a variety of areas of local government, invariably we send people to Phoenix and to Frank Fairbanks,” said an ICMA statement when announcing the award.

Fairbanks worked closely with Mayor Gordon to promote ASU’s School of Public Affairs as a partner in the new alliance and downtown Phoenix as the ideal location for IG’s new headquarters. “Having the Alliance for Innovation in Local Government come to Phoenix is a real badge of honor in the city management profession,” said Fairbanks, “and it confirms our mayor’s and City Council’s focus on high quality, innovative services for the community.”

The School of Public Affairs also has named James H. Svara director of its Center for Urban Innovation, which will interact closely with the Alliance. Svara is a leading scholar on process, structure and governance in local government. “The strength of the Alliance partnership comes from blending the perspectives of scholars and educators with those of practitioners in public management and public policy,” said Svara. “Our special contribution will be research. Our faculty along with some of the brightest minds in our region and around the world will research the trends, issues and conditions that drive innovation.”

Dean Debra Friedman, of the ASU College of Public Programs, a critical ally of the project, suggests, “The Alliance for Innovation’s choice of ASU as their university partner signals the powerhouse of new ideas and strategies that we can expect in the future. ASU and the Alliance, together with their public sector partners, will serve as a global magnet for those who share common interests in urban management.”

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