A new trend in local economic development is emerging. Talented workers—and the companies who want to employ them—are increasingly moving to walkable neighborhoods served by transit, with a vibrant mix of restaurants, cafes, shops, cultural attractions, and affordable housing options.
For decades, if a community wanted to increase jobs, the go-to approach was to offer companies tax breaks and subsidies to relocate there.
This approach has lots of downsides. But perhaps the biggest problem for economic development officials now is that too often, this strategy simply doesn’t work.
Companies today are less interested in tax breaks and more interested in vibrant neighborhoods with affordable housing options, restaurants, nightlife, and other amenities in walking distance, and a range of transportation options for their employees.
If tax breaks were the old way to do economic development, creating great places is the new way.
On Tuesday, June 28, we’ll release Amazing Place, which details how six cities are using a place-based approach to economic development.
Later this month, the Treefort Music Festival will showcase hundreds of musicians in Boise, ID, and one of the festival’s central venues is a building that not long ago was a contaminated brownfield.
The Linen Building in downtown Boise was a vacant and blighted former laundry facility less than a decade ago, and posed a potential threat to the surrounding area due to environmental contamination. The building was a “brownfield”—a site formerly home to a factory, gas station or other industrial facility left polluted and hazardous, and requiring environmental remediation to be used again.
City Councilmember Elaine Clegg is using her experience with smart growth development to create great neighborhoods in Boise, Idaho.
First elected to the City Council in 2003, Clegg believes Boise’s wealth of natural assets and existing infrastructure can be utilized to attract the kind of young, educated workers many leading companies demand. To accomplish those goals, however, the city must invest in the things that make a difference, creating places where people want to live and where they can walk or bike to shops, restaurants, schools and other amenities.