The regional councils are called upon to work with their respective local governments and regional partners and stakeholders to formulate a range of regional and multi-jurisdiction plans and strategies responding to a spectrum of federal programs and regional needs. The regional councils in Alabama prepared Comprehensive Economic Development Strategies (CEDS), then consolidated those 12 documents into a statewide strategy document. The Alabama Consolidated Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy, prepared by the Alabama Association of Regional Councils, is a two- part report. Part I consolidates each of the 12 regional CEDS into one overarching economic development strategy for the State of Alabama. Part II contains Supplemental Reports for Statewide Economic Recovery, which were developed and implemented in response to the hurricanes of 2004 and 2005.
The regional councils, under a contract between the Alabama Association of Regional Councils and the Alabama Department of Transportation, prepared Human Service Coordinated Transportation Plans in 2006. These regional plans examined publicly and privately operated transportation resources and real and perceived gaps in transportation services, then proposed means of closing those gaps. They also provided a short-range program of proposed operational and capital expansions. The Human Services Coordinated Transportation Plans were updated in September 2008.
In addition to the Human Services Coordinated Transportation Plan, each of the regional councils has been designated to conduct a rural transportation consultation study by the Alabama Department of Transportation (ALDOT) to identify the rural transportation needs of Alabama’s non-metropolitan areas. A Rural Planning Organization (RPO) has been established in each region similar to the Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs) in urban areas. The RPOs meet on a regular basis to identify needs, to share information, to define rural transportation issues and to propose long-range regional and local solutions to meet the identified needs.
The regional councils submit annual reports regarding the RPO activities and proposals to ALDOT.
The nine Area Agencies on Aging that are located in regional councils prepare Area Plans on Aging for their respective service areas. These Area Plans assess short-range and long-range service needs of seniors within those regions and set forth strategies and propose programs to address those needs. The Area Plans are reviewed on an on-going basis, and operating programs are delineated in Annual Operating Elements that are submitted to and funded by the Alabama Department of Senior Services.
The regional councils have been tasked with the facilitation of Alabama’s Rural Action Commission initiative. Eight regional Rural Action Commissions have been designated that coincide with or combine regional council service areas. On May 8, 2007, Governor Riley met with members of the Alabama Rural Action Commission and the Chair of the respective regional Rural Action Commissions to discuss this strategic initiative for improving the quality of life in Alabama’s rural communities. The regional Rural Action Commissions will stimulate community engagement in economic development, establish new partnerships, develop measurable objectives for improving quality of life throughout the respective regions, and emphasize regional and cross-regional partnerships, using the experience, leadership, and resources of the regional councils. The initiative is focusing on and identifying priorities and strategies for economic development, health care, and education in rural areas of the state.
The Regional Councils have been instrumental in the development of Hazard Mitigation Plans for over half of the counties in the State. The Disaster Mitigation Act of 2000 set requirements for mitigation planning and continued eligibility for the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program. One of those requirements is that the Plans are updated every five years. In 2008, seven Regional Councils are participating in the initiative to update 33 of the state State’s 67 countywide multi-jurisdictional plans. This project received funding through a Hazard Mitigation Planning Grant awarded to the Alabama Association of Regional Councils from the Alabama Emergency Management Agency.