Building Economic Resilience in Energy Host Communities: A Nuclear Communities Forum

Building Economic Resilience in Energy Communities: A Nuclear Host Communities Forum

On September 20-21, 2023, Smart Growth America will bring together communities from across the country for a series of engaging discussions around the wide range of possibilities and hurdles that energy host communities are currently facing.


Communities across the country are currently facing the impacts of the national shift to renewable energy. This shift presents significant economic development challenges—and opportunities—to the mostly small or rural regions where power plants are located. 

Most energy communities host aging power infrastructure such as coal, nuclear, and natural gas plants that may be approaching the end of their lifespan. As many communities transition to newer forms of electricity generation, they need to be able to stay nimble with dynamic workforces, supportive infrastructure, and diverse economies. 

Our virtual forum will discuss how communities can respond quickly in a time of change, featuring speakers, panels, and resources on a wide range of socioeconomic impacts of hosting a power plant, including:

  • How to leverage existing energy assets 
  • Economic diversification strategies
  • Workforce development tactics 
  • Prioritizing meaningful, consistent community engagement in planning
  • The rapidly evolving energy landscape
  • And more!

Why focus on nuclear host communities?

Somewhat unexpectedly, communities that host nuclear power plants have witnessed a renewed interest over the past year. The Biden Administration has made it a priority to support new nuclear technologies and the extension of existing plants’ operational licenses in order to meet the energy demand. For communities, this revitalization is a major benefit, allowing what is likely their largest local employer to remain operational and contribute to the local tax base, workforce development, and other vital community functions. But for communities where their local plant is decommissioning or closed, a major energy transition and economic shock occurs, forcing once-highly-paid residents to leave in search of work, taking their families and tax dollars with them.



Day 1: September 20th, 2023

Economic diversification is vital in any community, ensuring resilience in the face of major market shifts, natural disasters, and other disruptive events. For energy communities, economic diversification is even more important since, oftentimes, industrial power facilities are the main contributors to local economies. Day 1 will walk participants through the current state of the energy market in the U.S., and explain how communities can leverage their existing resources to support future growth. See the detailed agenda below.

1:00 – 1:15 p.m. Welcome, Reflections & Insights

1:15 – 2:00 p.m. Seizing Opportunities: Unique Approaches for Nuclear Communities

2:00 – 2:20 p.m. Report Release: Community Economic Diversification Roadmap

2:20 – 2:30 p.m. Break

2:30 – 3:15 p.m. Economic Diversification in Action: Panel of Community Experiences

3:15 – 3:45 p.m. Strategies for Workforce Development in Energy Communities

3:45 – 4:00 p.m. Wrap-Up

Day 2: September 21st, 2023

There is an increasing reliance on renewables in the national energy market, and fossil fuel-based plants are closing at a rapid rate. The nuclear industry presents countless opportunities for building up the nation’s renewable energy portfolio, and Day 2 will explore different avenues a community can take to make sure they are part of this movement. See the detailed agenda below.

1:00 – 1:15 p.m. Welcome & Review of Day 1

1:15 – 2:00 p.m. Rethinking Nuclear: Its Role in a Rapidly Evolving Energy Landscape

2:00 – 2:45 p.m. New Nuclear Technologies and a Shifting Energy Market

2:45 – 3:00 p.m. Break

3:00 – 3:45 p.m. Tactics for Successful Energy Site Reuse

3:45 – 4:00 p.m. Changing the Narrative & Wrap-Up

In the meantime, engage with the Nuclear Communities team

Explore our resources: Visit the Nuclear Communities TA page to explore resources in our newsletter archive, watch past webinar recordings, learn about the socioeconomic impacts of nuclear power plant closure, and much more. 

Sign up for our monthly newsletter: The Transition & Resilience newsletter is curated by the NC TA team and features practical resources, news, and opportunities specifically curated for current and former nuclear host communities.

The Nuclear Communities Forum  is part of a partnership between Smart Growth America, NADO Research Foundation, the Center for Creative Land Recycling, and the Nuclear Decommissioning Collaborative, supported by the U.S. Economic Development Administration.
This effort utilizes Federal funds under award ED20HDQ3030068 from the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA), U.S. Department of Commerce. The statements, findings, conclusions, and recommendations are those of the project team and do not necessarily reflect the views of EDA or the U.S. Department of Commerce.