Place-based economic development in Pelahatchie, MS, Urbana, IL, and Stamford, CT at Policy Forum 2016

Libby Tyler speaks about place-based economic development in Urbana, IL as part of Policy Forum 2016.

Pelahatchie, MS, Urbana, IL, and Stamford, CT, are three very different communities with different economies and demographics. However, all of them are using a place-based approach to their economic development, and they have lessons to share with other communities interested in doing the same.

Local leaders from across the country came together in July for the Local Leaders Council Policy Forum 2016, a day-long summit in Washington, DC on revitalizing communities, placemaking, and preventing displacement. Place-based Economic Development was one of three tracks discussed at the conference. Revitalization without Displacement and Jumpstarting Revitalization were the other two.

A new program to help rural places use smart growth strategies

Many rural communities have seen farmland eroded by encroaching development, or are losing young residents to places with more amenities and greater opportunities. Whether drained by sprawl or struggling to compete, how can rural communities address these challenges while remaining true to their unique character?

Complete Streets News — May 2016

Indianapolis Cultural Trail, Photo Credit: Downtown Indy


Registration is now open for Street Lights — Join the National Complete Streets Coalition at Street Lights: Illuminating Implementation and Equity in Complete Streets, our first-ever Complete Streets conference, taking place on November 15, 2016 in Sacramento, CA. This day-long conference will be a chance for transportation planners and engineers, community, equity, and health advocates, local officials, and Complete Streets practitioners to share ideas, brainstorm solutions, and celebrate the success of the Complete Streets movement nationwide together. Conference registration is $150 for National Complete Streets Coalition partners and $195 for non-partners. Become a partner today and one complimentary registration is included!

Transit-oriented development assistance will help Honolulu, HI make more housing more affordable

East_Kapolei_NeighborhoodPlans for the East Kapolei Neighborhood. Photo via the City of Honolulu.

When the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) announced last week that Honolulu, HI would be among nine cities to receive new technical assistance for transit-oriented development, Honolulu Planning Director George Atta knew exactly how the assistance could help the city.

“We are hoping that transit oriented development will help us with our severe affordable housing problem,” Atta said.

Registration now open for Local Leaders Council Policy Forum 2016


Registration is now open for our Local Leaders Council‘s Policy Forum 2016, taking place July 18-19, 2016 at the Kaiser Permanente Center for Total Health in Washington, DC.

This annual conference gives local elected and appointed officials a chance to learn about some of the most innovative smart growth projects in the country. This year’s theme — “Solutions for Local Success” — will focus on allowing local leaders from communities of all sizes to share their stories and find tools to solve current challenges. The Forum is a unique opportunity to explore the latest policy solutions and network with like-minded colleagues who are making smart growth happen throughout the country.

Mayor Paul Soglin works to make sure Madison, WI's independent businesses serve visitors AND residents

Many cities envy Madison, WI’s thriving State Street retail corridor. After being converted from a four-lane road to a pedestrian-focused thoroughfare in 1974, State Street has become synonymous with funky retail stores and welcoming locals. It’s a draw for University of Wisconsin students, residents, and visitors alike, and an important economic and cultural asset for the city. According to Downtown Madison Inc.’s latest State of Downtown report, Madison’s Central Business Improvement District (BID), which contains State Street, saw vacancy rates decline from 7.5 percent in 2012 to just 4.6 percent in 2014.

In recent years, however, the mix of retail on State Street has trended toward businesses focused more on food and drink and less on goods and services. According to Downtown Madison, Inc., 40 percent of businesses in the Central BID are food and drink businesses—but only 25 percent are other types of retail. Local leaders are concerned that if this shift continues, the area will fail to meet the everyday needs of local residents.

SeaTac, WA looks to make the most of three light rail stations with an "Implementing TOD" workshop

The Angle Lake light rail station under construction in SeaTac, WA. A Smart Growth America workshop looked at the potential for new development around the station. Photo by SounderBruce via Flickr.

In early October, Smart Growth America traveled to SeaTac, WA to help the city figure out how to make the most of three light rail stations with an Implementing transit-oriented development 101 workshop.

The City of SeaTac has already adopted area plans for each of its SeaTac Airport, Tukwila International Boulevard, and soon-to-open Angle Lake light rail stations. “In 2016, with the opening of the Angle Lake Station, the City will have three light rail station areas, each with its own distinct attributes, opportunities and challenges,” said Todd Cutts, SeaTac City Manager. “The expert assistance from Smart Growth America will help guide the transformation of these areas and support the community in shaping them into active, interesting, and healthy places.”

Recorded webinar: "(Re)Building Downtown: A Guidebook for Revitalization"

rebuilding6Are you interested in helping your community revitalize its downtown, but don’t know where to start?

Yesterday, Smart Growth America released (Re)Building Downtown: A Guidebook for Revitalization, a new resource for local leaders who want to re-invigorate and strengthen neighborhood centers of economy, culture, and history through a smart growth approach to development. The guide lays out in straightforward language seven main steps to help (re)build downtowns and Main Streets, and is designed to be used by any community, no matter where they are in the revitalization process.

As part of yesterday’s kickoff, we hosted an online conversation all about downtown revitalization. Participants heard an overview of the new guidebook, and discussed revitalization efforts in three different communities. A recorded version of the webinar is now available.