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Incentivizing Restoration through a Chesapeake Bay Economy – Symposium Summary

A capacity crowd of approximately 130 persons attended the 2009 Rappahannock Symposium at Mary Washington University in Fredericksburg. Particularly noteworthy was the diversity of attendees, with approximately 30% from the for-profit private sector. Complete findings from the Symposium will be available from the Rappahannock River Basin Commission in the coming weeks. One-half of the day was devoted to presentations on the concept of a bioregional economy to restore the Rappahannock River and The Chesapeake Bay, with the other half featuring a series of small group discussions on opportunities and impediments associated with this idea. 16 small groups brainstormed on the following questions:

1. What can make the Chesapeake Bay Economy relevant to you personally and to your community?

2. What are your suggestions for improving the project design and work plan?

3. What are your questions and thoughts about this project?

4. What persons, businesses and organizations would make a valuable contribution in the creation of the business plan?

The following issues prompted considerable discussion among the 16 small groups:

  • The idea of a Rappahannock Exchange Bioregional Marketplace has legitimacy and was found to have considerable support among the participants
  • The appropriateness of a watershed-scale for such an initiative
  • Questions about a five-year timeline
  • Questions about the size of the proposed Advisory Board
  • The necessity for private capitalization and venture funding
  • Confusion about the Exchange Flowchart
  • The importance of marketing and branding
  • Questions about the amount of revenue an Exchange could create
  • The need for transparency and clear success metrics for consumers, landowners, businesses, and government
  • The need for integration with existing NGO and governmental programs
  • Questions about all the ways demand can be created

U.S. Congressman Rob Wittman and U.S. EPA Region III TMDL lead Robert Koronkai voiced their support for the project and sincere interest in working with the Commission to move the project forward. According to Commission coordinator, Eldon James, the next steps include:

  • Review and publication of the Symposium Findings
  • Creation of a short-term workplan to create a Rappahannock Exchange Business Plan in the next 120 days, assuming the Commission decides to move forward


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