Leaders of every community—big metropolis and small town alike—strive to foster economic growth and prosperity. Regardless of party or ideology, every elected official prefers the choice of lowering taxes or increasing services compared to the reverse. A growing economy and tax base make that easier to achieve, and so most local policies are intended to … Continued
economic and fiscal health
Introduction Leaders of every community, big city, or small municipality, whether they’re in a major metropolitan area or a rural area, strive to foster economic growth and prosperity. They want good jobs, successful local businesses, and ideally, for municipal resources to grow faster than the costs of existing programs. Regardless of party or ideology, every … Continued
Beyond the devastating effects on a community, economic disasters can present an opportunity for change by highlighting a risky over-dependence on a single industry sector and motivating local leaders and planners to invest in the long-term resiliency of their community. Our work on the economic development team at Smart Growth America seeks to strengthen local economies through diversification—one of the most effective ways to increase long-term economic resilience.
Atmore—a rural city in southern Alabama—is poised to make some key land use decisions that will have a great impact on both its long-term economic prosperity and its fiscal health. To grapple with these choices, the city partnered with Smart Growth America to gain a better understand their impact.
In early April, Smart Growth America released a new model for analyzing the fiscal performance of urban development. The City of Madison, WI, was the first city to use the new model in their development planning.
Today we’re proud to release new analysis of development patterns in West Des Moines, IA. The new research examines four different strategies for West Des Moines’ growth over the next 20 years. Each scenario assumes the development of 9,275 housing units and 2.69 million square feet of commercial space, which is in keeping with West Des Moines’ current growth.
The four scenarios have different densities and a different mix of home types. A “base density” scenario approximates the average density of development in West Des Moines today; a “low density” and “higher density” scenario represent incrementally lower, and higher development densities, respectively, than the base. And a “walkable urban” scenario has the highest density of all scenarios considered and represents a more dramatic departure from the typical development pattern in West Des Moines (though does not propose any high-rise development).
The model calculates average annual public costs for each scenario. Our researchers subtract that from the average annual public revenues generated by each scenario. The result is the net fiscal impact of each type of development.
The Fiscal Implications of Development Patterns, released today by Smart Growth America and real estate advisors RCLCO, is a new model for analyzing the fiscal performance of urban development.
It is designed to help towns, cities, and counties understand what financial returns their development currently generates—and what strategies could generate better returns in the future.
This new model is unique in that it is sensitive to both geography and density. We allow municipal costs per capita to vary based on these factors.
Smart Growth America will be presenting this new tool at a live event today at 2:00 PM EDT in Madison, WI. The event will also be live streamed on the web, and we invite you to watch.
Madison is the first city in the country to use our new model, and today’s event will also include a demonstration of how the model applies to Madison’s development specifically.
Smart Growth America is always working to help towns and cities better understand the impacts of their development choices. Our new model is the most recent in this line of work and we look forward to sharing it with you. Join us later today to learn all about the new resource.
P.S.—Want to conduct this analysis in your town, city, or county? Contact us to learn about our consulting services.
A bird’s eye rendering of Pasadena’s growing local economy. Graphic via the City of Pasadena.
In Harris County, TX, the Department of Public Health and Environmental Services (HCPHES) knew that encouraging smarter development could benefit both public health and the local economy. But creating real change meant more than just having the knowledge. If smart growth was to become a reality, local officials, business leaders, and interested citizens needed to join the process and feel ownership.
So HCPHES brought in the experts.
A building in New Port Richey, Florida. Photo via Wikipedia Commons.
On July 30 and 31, 2014, officials and local residents of Pasco County, FL met with representatives from Smart Growth America as part of a free, grant-funded technical assistance program. The workshop aimed to provide Pasco County with tools and techniques to implement plans to revitalize the Harbors, a portion of the U.S. Route 19 corridor that follows the county’s coastline.
The City of Indianapolis is embarking on Plan 2020: The Bicentennial Plan for Indianapolis, an unprecedented initiative to update and integrate the City’s core planning documents. To complement this effort, Indianapolis officials and local residents met with representatives from Smart Growth America on June 11 and 12, 2014 as part of a free, grant-funded technical assistance program. The workshop focused on how shifting development patterns towards more compact, transit-oriented development could benefit the local economy and local government finances, both of which are important components of Plan 2020.
A visualization of the Northfax node along Fairfax Boulevard illustrating a potential future condition. Photo courtesy of Dover Kohl & Partners.
In June, 2013 Smart Growth America visited the city of Fairfax, VA to help city leaders there figure out new strategies for development. How is Fairfax using that workshop to inform its work today?
Since 2007, the City has been working to revitalize Fairfax Boulevard, the main commercial corridor running through the city. The boulevard is currently home to strip mall-type retail and other low-density commercial businesses but recent developer interest in projects along Fairfax Boulevard made the City realize that low-density development on the corridor would not support the community over the long term. So the Department of Community Development and Planning applied for one of Smart Growth America’s free technical assistance workshops, viewing it as an opportunity to ground public discussions about development in sound fiscal policy.