Economic Benefits of Smart Growth

Smart growth development has the potential to extensively benefit the economy of a town or city. Of the many smart growth strategies that benefit local economies, LOCUS has identified two that are especially effective as economic catalysts: transit-oriented and mixed-use development.

Transit-Oriented Development

Transit-oriented development (TOD) means investing around existing transit infrastructure. This smart growth strategy generates higher, more stable property values, increases foot traffic around local businesses and increases transit ridership. As a result, TOD helps create vibrant neighborhoods where people want to live, making these areas attractive to buyers and enhancing regions’ ability to stay economically competitive. Most importantly, TOD is cheaper than supporting continued road-building and sprawl.

Mixed-Use Development

Mixed-use development is a fundamental smart growth strategy. Mixed-use development allows people to live, work and play all in the same area and this cuts down on commutes, alleviates congestion, increases demand for transit options and is commonly associated with higher property values.

Due to these advantages, more and more people are choosing to live in or near mixed-use development. According to a 2009 Reconnecting America report, demand for transit in walkable, mixed-use communities is projected to double over the next 20 years to 15.2 million households by 2030.

Rural Communities

Rural communities can benefit from smart growth practices to the same extent as large metropolitan regions. Targeting infrastructure investments geared towards enhancing existing qualities of life provides rural communities with the ability to remain economically competitive.

By supporting existing assets, such as protecting working and natural lands, communities are able to preserve their unique character and build upon these assets to better market themselves to both business and residents. Coupled with pointed investment in new, vibrant neighborhoods, rural communities are able to create places that attract and retain residents, especially young people.