This week, we’re joined by Somerville Mayor Joseph Curtatone on Building Better Communities with Transit to learn about how the Green Line Extension is transforming the city by reconnecting it with high-capacity rail transit.
Today, we officially launch the Rebuild America’s Neighborhoods campaign to organize developers and investors to advocate for a federal tax and budget plan that increases private capital investment in public infrastructure, affordable housing and economic development.
Amazon dropped a bombshell earlier this week when they announced that they’re going to expand from Seattle by building a brand new second headquarters in another city. Based on their RFP, regardless of where they land, it’s another example of how companies are increasingly seeking out vibrant, walkable, connected urban places as they try to attract and retain talent.
Vibrant, walkable neighborhoods can help attract new residents and jobs, support existing businesses, and benefit everyone’s quality of life. We’re excited to announce an in-person event exploring how these strategies are working in two particular cities—and how communities anywhere can use this approach.
Rickshaw Bagworks makes and sells cycling-inspired bags in San Francisco’s Dogpatch neighborhood. Photo by Richard Masoner via Flickr.
Small-scale manufacturers like woodworkers, steel fabricators, hardware prototypers, microbrewers, and coffee roasters with regional distribution have emerged as a significant force in today’s urban economy. For many cities and neighborhoods suffering the loss of skilled-labor employers, this emerging, city-oriented industrial sector offers a powerful revitalization tool that can connect residents to good paying jobs and economic opportunity in the neighborhoods they call home.
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.
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
Council President Jake Day of Salisbury, MD participates in the Walkability Audit.
Each year Smart Growth America offers a limited number of free workshops to help communities use smart growth strategies to achieve their goals for economic and environmental sustainability. Local Leaders Council members have used these workshops in very different ways. “The workshops we offer range from general introductions to very specific tools like the Parking Audit,” explains Elizabeth Schilling, Smart Growth America’s Deputy Director of Policy Development and Implementation, who teaches the Smart Growth Implementation 101 workshops. “In our most successful communities, leaders pick the right tool for the problem at hand, then design an outreach strategy to engage really diverse groups of problem solvers.”
Councilmember Michael Trapp, right, at parking audit workshop in Columbia, MO in 2015.
“Involvement of key community leaders” is one of five criteria Smart Growth America uses to select which communities receive our free technical assistance workshops each year. In fact, a letter of commitment signed by “the mayor, county commission chair, or comparable elected leader” is one of the requirements for applying.
Members of Smart Growth America’s Local Leaders Council are a natural fit for this requirement, with a demonstrated interest in smarter development strategies. Over the past five years, 23 of the more than 50 winning communities have been home to current and future Local Leaders Council members. Here’s a look at how Local Leaders Council members have used these competitive awards.
In 2013, the Village of Park Forest, IL won a sustainable land use code audit workshop, which served as a kickoff event for the Village’s work revising its zoning and subdivision ordinances. The workshop was an opportunity to fill in gaps in technical expertise, gauge public interest in sustainable land use codes, and bring a fresh set of eyes to the process.
Photo: Saco, ME, Jasperado via Flickr.
Maintaining New England traditions is at the top of Saco, ME’s agenda. How can this small city maintain the physical, economic, and cultural assets that make it unique while also changing in ways that make it a desirable destination for tourists, homebuyers, businesses, and investors?
Saco recently wrapped up a future visioning process intended to answer these questions and guide future public investments and economic development initiatives. Mayor Don Pilon, a member of Smart Growth America’s Local Leaders Council, explains that short Council terms (lasting just two years) were part of the impetus for the visioning process, known as Bridge 2025. “We all sit down and think through what we want to accomplish in the two years that we have,” Mayor Pilon explained, but there was rarely common vision for what should happen beyond that budget cycle. To establish that, Mayor Pilon deliberately stepped back and supported a process that put businesses, residents, and other stakeholders in the driver’s seat. “This had to be driven by the public,” he explained. “When we’re gone, this needs to be continued by the stakeholders. This is their product, not our product.”