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There is an ever growing recognition in Ohio and around the nation that the region is the arena in which local governments must work together to resolve social and environmental challenges. How do you mobilize and organize five counties with 175 units of government serving 2.5 million people? A regional council is a logical choice. These multi-service entities have state and locally-defined boundaries and deliver a variety of federal, state and local programs. They also function as planning organizations, provide much-needed technical assistance and lead as “visionaries” for regions and their member governments.

Thinking Regionally

Regional Councils are accountable to local government and are effective partners for implementing state and federal government offerings. Regional councils are stable, broad-based organizations adept at consensus-building, creating partnerships, providing services, problem solving and fiscal management.

The role of the regional council has been shaped by the changing dynamics in federal, state and local government relations. In Ohio, regional councils serve as metropolitan planning organizations, local development districts and economic development districts. Comprehensive and transportation planning, economic development, workforce development, the environment, services for the elderly and clearinghouse functions are among the types of programs managed by regional councils.

In Ohio, regional councils play a major role in planning for transportation and other infrastructure, which are the backbone of any regional economy. And they already provide the forum that allows officials from communities within the region to discuss shared challenges and opportunities. Many issues will require the state to work closely with regions building an infrastructure and talented workforce that will accommodate a changing economy.