Working together to develop local strategies for strong rural communities

This post was originally published by Megan McConville, Senior Policy Advisor to the Rural Housing Service Administrator on the USDA blog.  How will decisions about where we locate new development or upgrade existing infrastructure impact our future economic vitality and fiscal health?  How can we site and plan public facilities and housing so they have the … Continued

Recorded webinar: "Amazing Place" kickoff discussion

amazing-place-webinar-iconBoise, Denver, Greenville, Minneapolis, Nashville, and Pittsburgh are six of the many cities using a new strategy for economic development. Rather than offering tax breaks to lure companies, these cities are creating walkable, vibrant, inclusive neighborhoods that are attracting residents and employers, supporting existing businesses, and fostering entrepreneurs.

We talk about this new approach in our most recent report, Amazing Place: Six Cities Using the New Recipe for Economic Development. The report takes an in-depth look at the development strategies at work in these six cities, and is designed to show communities everywhere how to create diverse and durable local economies that last beyond the lifecycle of any one employer.

As part of Tuesday’s kickoff for the new report, we hosted an online conversation about creating these amazing places. Participants heard an overview of the guide as well as a detailed discussion about development in Denver, Greenville, and Pittsburgh. A recorded version of the webinar is now available.

Introducing "Amazing Place"

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.

Amazing Place

Many companies—from Fortune 500 titans to lean startups to independent manufacturers—are moving to places that offer great quality of life for their employees. As Smart Growth America detailed in our 2015 report Core Values: Why American Companies are Moving Downtown, these companies want vibrant neighborhoods with affordable housing options, restaurants, nightlife, and other amenities in … Continued

Inside Foot Traffic Ahead: sub-urban places and the future of walkability  

Belmar-festivalFestival Italiano in walkable sub-urban Belmar, Denver, CO. Photo via Flickr.

Walkable real estate is in high demand in America’s large metros, and tomorrow’s most successful cities will be the ones that capture that market—but the walkable places they build may not look like today’s downtowns.

In Foot Traffic Ahead, our June report co-released by our LOCUS coalition and the Center for Real Estate and Urban Analysis at the George Washington University School of Business, we ranked America’s largest metropolitan areas based on their projected future growth in development of walkable places. That list of nascent future walkable real estate hot spots included surprise contenders like Atlanta, Denver, and Los Angeles—far from the usual suspects for such rankings. Meanwhile, some famously walkable cities like Portland, Pittsburg, and Baltimore were projected to fall behind.

The difference owes to walkable sub-urban places, an unconventional category that includes both historic town-center type suburbs and modern transit-oriented developments. In our highest-projected metro areas—from Washington, DC to Atlanta, GA—a large percent of new growth is expected to take the walkable sub-urban form.

Dangerous by Design 2014: Colorado

The National Complete Streets Coalition reports on the national epidemic of pedestrian fatalities, offering county-, metro-, and state-level data on traffic fatalities and an interactive map of each loss in the decade 2003 through 2012. This resource specific profiles the state of Colorado.

Applications close Friday for Smart Growth America's 2014 free technical assistance workshops

coolplanningboulder
The City of Boulder, CO created this poster following their February workshop on cool planning.

The application window for Smart Growth America’s 2014 free technical assistance workshops is closing soon! If your community is considering applying for one or more of these workshops, applications are due by this Friday, December 6, 2013 at 5:00 PM EST.

In 2013, 22 communities were awarded these free workshops, including small towns like Blue Springs, MO and Campbell, NY and major cities like Houston, TX. These communities have used what they learned at our workshops to inform new projects, new plans—and even posters!

Northwest Colorado hosts workshop to discuss strengthening economy

Eagle CO

Northwest Colorado Council of Governments (NWCCOG) officials and local residents met with representatives from Smart Growth America on August 8 and 9, 2013 as part of a free, grant-funded technical assistance program. The two-day workshop provided tools and training to assist NWCCOG leaders as they develop strategies for the organization’s new role as a U.S. Economic Development Administration Economic Development District. These strategies will help NWCCOG communities to strengthen their economies while also maintaining the natural environment for which the region is known.

“NWCCOG is very excited about our upcoming Smart Growth America workshop,” said Rachel Lunney, Economic Development and Communications Manager for NWCCOG. “We are a newly-designated Economic Development District, and as such we have asked for assistance with planning for the economic and fiscal health of our member communities. Smart Growth America’s experts will help us advance toward our vision of a robust, diverse regional economy, made up of strong local businesses and jobs that pay well in communities with housing and transportation choices near jobs, shops and schools.”

Spotlight on Sustainability: Denver's Sun Valley plans for brighter tomorrow

Sun Valley
Sun Valley neighborhood listening sessions. Photo via the Decatur-Federal Station Area Plan.

Denver, CO’s Sun Valley has a new chance to overcome many hurdles towards economic vibrancy thanks to a new light rail line and a Community Challenge grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

Sun Valley near downtown Denver is a remarkably diverse neighborhood home to a large immigrant and refugee population. The area is also one of Denver’s poorest, with an average annual income of $8,000 per household. More than 9 out of 10 of the area’s residents live in public housing. In addition to these demographic challenges Sun Valley is alo isolated geographically, cut off from Denver’s urban core by the South Platte River to the east, Sports Authority Field at Mile High to the north, and major roads to the west and south.

A new initiative will help Sun Valley overcome these chalenges and become a better place to live for current residents and future ones. At the heart of this work is the Decatur-Federal Station Area Plan, a transit-oriented development strategy for the larger Sun Valley region. Created by the Denver Department of Community Planning and Development and the Denver Housing Authority, the plan centers around a newly-completed RTD FasTracks light rail line. The line extends west from the heart of downtown Denver to Golden, CO, and connects Sun Valley to Denver’s economic opportunities and employment centers.

Startup Places and the companies that call them home

Crossroads District
Baltimore Street in Kansas City, MO’s Crossroads District. Photo by Chris Murphy via Flickr.

This Thursday we’re hosting Tech in the City: Startup Communities in Startup Places, a conversation about DC’s startup companies and the neighborhoods they call home. Follow the conversation on Twitter later this week at #TechintheCity.

Small tech startups are coming together in cities across the country to build communities of innovation and collaboration. Why are these communities taking root in the places they do? And what can cities do to foster these leaders of the new economy?

It may seem counterintuitive for competing companies to move close to one another, but there are reasons for startups to work together. As Brad Feld explains in his book Startup Communities, startups can be more successful, create more jobs, and attract more talent by working together to create an inclusive community of people who gather together to share ideas.

Dozens of cities in the United States are now home to one or more startup communities. These clusters of companies are often grouped around a shared resource like co-working space, a tech accelerator or university. It takes more than that, though, for a startup community to flourish. In city after city these communities are forming in neighborhoods with a common set of characteristics.

I call these neighborhoods Startup Places. Whether in former industrial neighborhoods, a city’s downtown or an historic district put to innovative new use, Startup Places have places to gather, a dynamic mix of people nearby, and affordable commercial spaces. These neighborhood features meet the needs of startup communities by giving startup leaders places to meet fellow entrepreneurs, mingle with new ideas, and find flexible office space affordable enough for a new business. Here’s a closer look at how neighborhoods like these come about.