Anderson, CA works to build a resilient economic identity

lake shasta
Impressive natural features such as Lake Shasta surround Anderson, CA. Photo by U.S. Forest Service via Flickr.

Like many small cities in America, Anderson, CA is proud of its unique and welcoming character. Also like many cities, however, the commuter town of 9,900 residents is reliant on local revenue—and needs to ensure its own fiscal stability without sacrificing that character. A former hub of mining and timber activity, Anderson now largely functions as a bedroom community for nearby Redding. But local officials and community members alike aspire to carve out a more coherent and resilient niche in the regional economy. That’s where Smart Growth America came in.

To begin articulating a vision for the city’s long-term economic development, Anderson officials and residents welcomed experts from Smart Growth America on October 14 and 15, 2014. Over the course of a two-day technical assistance workshop, Smart Growth America provided local stakeholders with the tools to begin thinking through scenarios for Anderson’s future economic identity.

The first day of the workshop featured a presentation open to the public that provided an overview of the fiscal and economic impacts of different development patterns, focusing on how more compact, smart growth could could attract new businesses and benefit the local economy and local government finances.

The second day of the workshop brought together an invited group of representatives from Anderson’s Economic Development Committee, Chamber of Commerce, City Council, Planning Commission, Police Department, Parks Department and school district, Shasta County’s Small Business Development office and Public Health Department, and representatives from the local private and nonprofit sectors. The mayor, city manager, and assistant city manager also attended. The invited group viewed additional presentations and participated in facilitated brainstorming sessions to more deeply identify challenges and opportunities associated with encouraging the development and redevelopment of key sites in the city.

In particular, participants examined the possibility of focusing efforts on infill development downtown and weighed this scenario against a second option of focusing on new development of a 385-acre industrial site at the city fringes. Participants also explored how to strengthen Anderson’s greatest asset, a large riverfront park.

In January 2014, the City of Anderson was one of 18 applicants selected by Smart Growth America to participate in the free technical assistance program. Stretching from New Hampshire to California, these communities represent major cities, suburban centers, and rural towns alike.

The program, made possible through a five-year Building Blocks for Sustainable Communities grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Sustainable Communities, seeks to develop local planning solutions that help communities grow in ways that benefit families and businesses, while protecting the environment and preserving a sense of place. Three other nonprofit organizations—Forterra, Global Green USA and Project for Public Spaces—also received competitively awarded grants under this program to help communities get the kinds of development they want.

Workshop Materials:

Smart Growth America’s technical assistance has helped over 50 communities from California to Maine achieve their goals. To see results and recommendations from our past workshops, click here >>

Technical assistance