Laramie City Council member Brian Harrington announced Thursday he has been appointed to the National League of Cities’ Community and Economic Development Committee.
The advocacy committee is responsible for developing the NLC’s “federal policy positions on issues involving housing, community and economic development, land use, recreation and parks, historic preservation and international competitiveness,” according to a news release.
The committee advocates for or against certain policy positions on behalf of NLC members to Congress and the federal government.
The 60-member committee includes representatives from the NLC’s 19,000 members, which includes cities and towns throughout the United States.
Harrington said his interest in serving on a committee generated from the two NLC conferences he’s attended since being elected to the City Council last year.
The first conference, NLC’s Congressional Cities conference in Washington, D.C., is where he said he started “to learn pretty significant success stories and things that have really worked in other communities, whether that be affordable housing practices, economic development, environmental things, opportunity zones, census things” or other positions the NLC has advocated for.
“It was pretty clear to me that there was a real power if we all work together on these issues that are really affecting every community,” Harrington told the Boomerang Friday.
During the most recent conference, the City Summit in San Antonio, Texas, Harrington said he began to look for a committee that would be the best fit for his skill set.
“I thought as somebody who has been involved in community and economic development issues in Laramie and also as a business owner, that this committee was really well suited for the expertise I might already have,” he said.
Feeling it was “important to really step up and represent Laramie nationally,” Harrington said he was partially inspired by Mayor Joe Shumway and former Mayor Klaus Hanson, who both have also served on various NLC committees.
Hitting the ground running, Harrington already has ideas on policy goals he’d like the committee to consider, including adjusting population requirements Community Development Block Grant distributed by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
The grant helps cities and towns address community development needs, especially for low- or medium-income populations. However, only cities with a population of over 58,000 can be considered entitlement cities, which qualify for additional federal funds. Cities like Laramie with a lower population can only qualify for state-granted funds.
“One of the things that I would hope that I can affect change on through work on this committee is to really look at lowering that population limit for what it means to be an entitlement city because that would open up a whole new realm of funding options for the city of Laramie and really a ton of other Wyoming communities,” Harrington said.
Harrington applied for the position this fall with a letter of support from David Fraser, the executive director of the Wyoming Association of Municipalities. Harrington has served as the city’s representative at recent WAM conferences.
The committee term is around one year, after which Harrington said he plans to continue working closely with the NLC. He said he’d especially like to work on a steering committee, considered an even bigger guiding voice for the NLC and its policy positions.
“My hope would be after a year of serving on the policy committee that I would be able to move on to committee leadership,” Harrington said. “And then who knows what comes after that.”
Representing Ward 1 in Laramie, which includes downtown and West Laramie, Harrington has served one year of his two-year term.