Mayor Madeline Rogero on a revitalized Knoxville, TN

Knoxville, Tennessee is refocusing development toward the city’s historic core and older neighborhoods, and the strategy is driving an economic turnaround for the city.

Knoxville Mayor Madeline Rogero, a member of the Advisory Board of Smart Growth America’s Local Leaders Council, says the city has focused on “strong, safe neighborhoods; living green and working green; an energized downtown and job creation and retention” during her time in office. The approach is bringing new businesses and residents to downtown Knoxville.

Local Leaders Council

Mayor Shing-Fu Hsueh on transit-oriented development in West Windsor, NJ

The small town of West Windsor, NJ is home to one of the busiest commuter rail stations in the country, and the town has plans to put that station at the heart of a new walkable neighborhood.

West Windsor is one of New Jersey’s 26 state-designated transit villages, meaning the town has shown a commitment to revitalizing and redeveloping the area around its transit stations into walkable, mixed-use neighborhoods with a strong residential component.

Local Leaders Council

Smart Growth Stories: Mayor Ken Moore on balancing preservation with growth in Franklin, Tennessee


Main Street in downtown Franklin, TN. Photo via Flickr.

Franklin, TN’s historic Main Street is more than a pretty place. It exemplifies Franklin’s historic heritage and has become the heart of the city’s new economy.

“We like to say we’re a community that balances preservation with growth,” says Franklin Mayor Ken Moore. Moore is on the Advisory Board of Smart Growth America’s Local Leaders Council, a nonpartisan group of municipal officials who share a passion for building great towns, cities, and communities. As a member of the Local Leaders Council, Moore is one of many elected leaders across the country using smart growth strategies to help their hometowns generate better return on taxpayer investment and compete in today’s economy.

Local Leaders Council

Smart Growth Stories: Teton County Commissioner Kathy Rinaldi on development strategies for long term prosperity

In the 1990s and 2000s, Teton County, ID was exploding. Its population growth was the 12th fastest in the entire country, and new home growth was the 6th fastest.

“We saw a palatable change in 10 years,” said Teton County Commissioner Kathy Rinaldi, a member of Smart Growth America’s Local Leaders Council. “At one point we had 89 subdivisions in the approval process. It was complete insanity. And it was very quick, it was very slipshod. [Only] half the subdivisions were built out, some were never even started.”

Then, in the late 2000s, the national real estate bust brought development in Teton County to a grinding halt. Almost 7,000 subdivision lots were left vacant, and the construction industry – once the leading job sector in the county – was crippled. Runaway real estate speculation and a lack of development strategy both contributed to the bust.

Local Leaders Council

Smart Growth Stories: Mayor Marilyn Strickland on development in Tacoma, WA

Tacoma, WA Mayor Marilyn Strickland considers her city “the best kept secret in Washington State,” and smart growth strategies are helping make the city an even better place to live and work.

“Tacoma kind of got bypassed during the whole urban renewal phase of the late 60s and 70s, so as a result a lot of historic property did not get razed,” Strickland says. “So we have this beautiful stock of old warehouses and historic property.”

Local Leaders Council

Smart Growth Stories: Mayor Rick Danner leads by example in Greer, SC

Since the early 1990′s, the city of Greer, SC has tripled in population and quadrupled in size. Mayor Rick Danner has been there for much of this change.

“We were growing at such a rapid rate that we were losing our sense of community, that small town feel,” Danner says in an interview with Smart Growth America. “And there was an overwhelming desire to be able to retain this sense of uniqueness that comes with the feel of a small town regardless of what size it is or population that it is. And we knew that the heart of that was going to be the downtown area.”

Local Leaders Council

Introducing Smart Growth America's Local Leaders Council

Smart Growth America is proud to announce the launch of our new Local Leaders Council, a nonpartisan group of local elected officials who share a passion for building great towns, cities, and communities.

Representing diverse communities of all sizes from across the United States, members of the Local Leaders Council are using smart growth strategies to help their hometowns compete and grow in today’s economy, generate better return on taxpayer investment, provide transportation and housing choices for their residents, and create vibrant places where people want to live, work, and play.

Local Leaders Council

Smart growth stories: Mayor Tom Hanel on making best use of public resources in Billings, MT

Every city has limits, even in the big state of Montana. And just as roads have their cutoff points, city budgets only stretch so far, too.

Mayor Tom Hanel of Billings, Montana, knows this well. As a long-time city employee, Hanel has plenty of experience crunching the numbers behind the scenes. Hanel realized that if Billings was to keep its books in order, the city would needs to make well-planned and well-informed decisions about development.

Local Leaders Council Uncategorized

Smart Growth Stories: Susie Byrd on planning and growth in El Paso, Texas

El Paso, Texas, is split by a mountain and bordered by Mexico, and Susie Byrd is helping the city build great neighborhoods around these unique features.

Byrd is a City Council Representative in El Paso, and has represented District 2 since 2005. During her time as a Representative, Byrd has led numerous efforts to preserve the best parts of El Paso’s historic corridors while also transforming the city into a model of 21st-century success. Her leadership has helped lead to the adoption of a city-wide Smart Code (PDF), a new Rapid Transit System, and an innovative comprehensive plan for El Paso’s growth in coming decades. Plan El Paso has already been called the best smart growth plan in America, and it’s hardly a coincidence that an experienced, knowledgeable supporter like Byrd is behind it.

Local Leaders Council Uncategorized

Councilmember Elaine Clegg on Boise, Idaho's blueprint for success

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.

Local Leaders Council Uncategorized