Making cities smarter and dealing with flood recovery will be two of the main focuses of the 12th annual Louisiana Smart Growth Summit, which starts Tuesday.
About 800 people are expected to attend the two-day conference, which will be held in the Shaw Center for the Arts in downtown Baton Rouge.
The first event will address how development practices have changed after disaster, said Elizabeth “Boo” Thomas, president and CEO of the Center for Planning Excellence, which sponsors the summit.
The discussion will touch on flooding around Baton Rouge in August 2016 as well as in Houston this year caused by Hurricane Harvey, Thomas said. Jeff Hebert, chief resilience officer for the city of New Orleans, will be a panel speaker.
Carol Coletta, a senior fellow at the Kresge Foundation’s American Cities Practice, will give the luncheon address Tuesday. She is spearheading a proposed $40 million collaboration of foundations, nonprofit agencies and governments that will discuss how civic assets can increase prosperity for cities and neighborhoods.
The closing keynote speaker from 4:10 p.m. to 5:15 p.m. Wednesday in the Manship Theatre is Seleta J. Reynolds, the general manager of the Los Angeles Department of Transportation.
“She’s called the rock star of the transportation world right now,” said Rachel DiResto, CPEX executive vice president. “She worked in San Francisco and now she’s head of L.A.’s department, a huge transportation department. She’s also chair of the board of the National Association of City Transportation Officials, which is an organization that kind of starts to set the rules and change the rules for designing roadways. She’s at the forefront of pushing against some of the pure engineering, car-centric policies and making Los Angeles more walkable.”
Reynolds also will participate in a panel discussion earlier Wednesday on urban mobility and integrating data.
Andy Berke, the mayor of Chattanooga, Tennessee, will give the luncheon address Wednesday. Chattanooga has taken steps to close the digital divide in the city through a municipal broadband network, and Berke has said the access to high-speed internet has led to higher wages and lower unemployment as a tech sector has started to develop.
Berke’s speech will be part of a “Smart Cities track” Wednesday, which features some of the new technologies that help make cities more functional, use data and procure contracts faster.
For all events and speakers, go to summit.cpex.org. Registration is $125 for one day or $175 for the full event through Thursday. Registration at the event is $140 for one day and $200 for the full event. The conference is free for CPEX members and volunteers.