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Northwest Hills Council of Governments - Regional Plan of Conservation & Development: Data Collection, Analysis, Graphics

In early 2016, the Northwest Hills Council of Governments (NHCOG) approached CERC to help the region gather data and prepare an analysis, graphics and report to inform its updated Regional Plan of Conservation and Development (POCD). In addition, the NHCOG was looking for the collected municipal data to be formatted and distributed so that member towns’ land use commissions could use the information and insights when formulating their individual 10-year plans.

The NHCOG Region includes the towns of Barkhamsted, Burlington, Canaan, Colebrook, Cornwall, Goshen, Hartland, Harwinton, Kent, Litchfield, Morris, New Hartford, Norfolk, North Canaan, Roxbury, Salisbury, Sharon, Torrington, Warren, Washington, and Winchester. The NHCOG Region is at a critical time in its economic history as driver industries shift, and residents strive to afford an exceptional quality of life. Data and analysis provides direction for stakeholders to make informed strategic decisions as part of its comprehensive plan.

The data CERC collected included statistics on the region’s demographics, jobs and employment conditions, housing, land use and infrastructure, and others recommended for inclusion by CERC. Sources included the U.S. Census Bureau, various State of Connecticut agencies, and private data sources.

With two central features for this data collection, CERC placed the regional statistics in state and national level contexts to help NHCOG and its partners understand conditions in the region and areas for potential focus. Also, the data was gathered and provided to NHCOG in a user-friendly format by town, so that each of the 21 towns and cities in the region had access to data for its own jurisdiction when preparing local POCDs and other municipal materials. As many of these towns are small and have limited staff, the data provided by CERC significantly decreased the amount of time required for data collection going forward.

CERC also provided NHCOG with an Executive Summary outlining the major trends and concerns the region is facing as a well as slides analyzing each data topic cross-sectionally (the region compared to the 21 towns and cities, the state, and the nation, where available) as well as, in many cases, longitudinally.

As a result of this work, NHCOG now has additional statistics from which they can make strategic decisions at municipal and regional levels.