Core Values: Why American Companies are Moving Downtown

Hundreds of companies across the United States are moving to and investing in walkable downtown locations. As job migration shifts towards cities and as commercial real estate values climb in these places, a vanguard of American companies are building and expanding in walkable downtown neighborhoods. Why are companies choosing these places? What are the competitive … Continued

Advocacy Economic development

Placemaking, local businesses and the 'knowledge economy' at GrowSmart Maine's annual summit

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On November 20, smart growth advocates and policymakers in Maine convened for our coalition partner GrowSmart Maine‘s annual summit. The conference drew members from across the state for an afternoon focused on the policies, trends, events, and projects that have strengthened Maine’s economy, environment and communities. 

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Transportation in the City event highlights the changing the face of transit in DC

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On Wednesday, September 25, Smart Growth America’s Transportation in the City event brought together a panel of transportation and startup experts, representatives from innovative transportation services operating in DC, and Washington residents to discuss the growth of transportation options over the past few years – and the challenges that lay ahead.

The panel included Donna Harris, Co-founder, 1776; Sita Vasan, Executive Director, SwitchPitch; Martin Di Caro, Transportation Reporter, WAMU; and Tom Fairchild, Director, Mobility Lab. Stewart Schwartz, Executive Director, Coalition for Smarter Growth made the opening remarks and the panel was moderated by Smart Growth America Vice President and Chief of Staff Ilana Preuss.

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Smart growth equips cities for business growth, job creation

What makes a city good for business? To get a sense, we looked two prominent business magazines that recently ranked cities all across America for their business climates. Four cities made it to both lists’ top ten: Washington, D.C.; New York City, New York; Austin, Texas; and Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

What do these “best for business cities have in common? They’re all using smart growth strategies.

“Great neighborhoods and great cities are where employees want to be and where businesses want to move,” said Geoffrey Anderson, President and CEO of Smart Growth America, “That’s why smart growth strategies are good for economic development – it helps businesses connect with workers and customers.”

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Smart growth news – December 27, 2011

Byram growth plan honored again
New Jersey Herald, December 23, 2011
Spanning from Maine to Washington state, the 15 chosen communities represent major cities, suburban communities, and rural towns, said Smart Growth America Vice President Roger Millar. The 15 selected communities exhibited the strongest interest in and need for smart growth tools, and demonstrated a commitment from local business, community and political leaders to implement local smart growth solutions, according to Millar.

Tacoma Chosen to Receive Smart Growth Assistance
Exit 133 (Wash.), December 23, 2011
Tacoma has been awarded a grant for free assistance from Smart Growth America. Tacoma is one of 15 communities selected out of a pool of close to 90 applications for the free assistance in implementing the principles of smart growth.

PlanMaryland: A Model for State-Level Smart Growth Planning
Streetsblog DC, December 22, 2011
Parris Glendening, former Maryland governor and smart growth leader explained his support for the plan in blog post for Smart Growth America: “I want my grandchildren to enjoy the beauty of Patapsco Valley State Park and the bustling downtown of historic Annapolis. I want them to be able to eat food grown in the Chesapeake Bay watershed, and to find a job here. I want Maryland to be a place they will love.”

Top 10 Daily Digits from 2011
Governing, December 23, 2011
69,000: The number of bridges that need major repairs or complete replacement in the United States, according to a Transportation for America report. Reuters reported in March that the American Society of Civil Engineers has estimated that the nation needs to invest $17 billion yearly to improve current bridge conditions.

Housing the Echo Boomers – Next Big Real Estate Opportunity?
Forbes, December 21, 2011
[W]hether Echo Boomers rent or buy, they will need housing, and there are 80 million of them. In other words, recognizing their demographics and preferences will separate the winners from the losers and that has huge financial implications in a generation as large as the Echo Boomers.

Technical assistance

Smart growth news – October 28

Advocates Say Housing Policy Discourages Mixed-Use Development
Governing Magazine, October 27, 2011
Ask members of Generation Y where they want to live, and chances are you’ll hear a common answer: urban environments where there is plenty to do within walking distance. For younger people (and many other Americans, for that matter), the cul-de-sac is no longer key.

Economy Alters How Americans Are Moving
New York Times, October 27, 2011
“When times get really hard it gets really hard for people to up and move,” said Kenneth M. Johnson, the senior demographer at the Carsey Institute, who conducted the analysis…Mr. Johnson said that the same phenomenon could be seen within states, as the growth began to slow in once rapidly growing suburbs, and shrinking cities like Los Angeles and Chicago began to stabilize.

The Design of Cities, Intelligent or Otherwise
New York Times, October 27, 2011
Those of us who live in cities — more than half the world’s population, according to many recent estimates — experience them mainly at eye and street level. Each urban environment has its own character and can therefore seem more like the result of natural processes than of complex human intentions. A city develops organically, through the complex interplay of economics, biology and countless local, individual decisions, but also by means of planning on the part of architects, engineers and politicians.

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Smart growth news – October 27

Apartment Values Rise, as Do Rents
Wall Street Journal, October 26, 2011
While concerns about the economy are cooling the market for most other types of commercial real estate, apartment rents and occupancies continue to be boosted by demand from millions of people who are victims of foreclosure or are unwilling or unable to buy their own homes.

NYU eyes former MTA headquarters for urban grad school in Bloomberg’s contest for new university
New York Daily News, October 26, 2011
Downtown Brooklyn would become a global hub for urban sciences if a noted local university wins a contest to develop a new applied sciences graduate school in the city.

A new look for East Riverside? Austin to highlight plan
American-Statesman (Texas), October 26, 2011
“The vision is to transform the area from an auto-dominated, aging corridor to a people-oriented destination with lots of people living, working and playing within walking distance of transit,” said Erica Leak with the city’s Planning and Development Review Department.

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Smart growth news – September 22

Select Cities See Brain Gain
Wall Street Journal, September 22, 2011
Despite a decade of technological advances that make it possible to work almost anywhere, many of the nation’s most educated people continue to cluster in a handful of dominant metropolitan areas such as Boston, New York and California’s Silicon Valley, according to census data released Thursday.

Which Is America’s Best City?
Business Week, September 20
Ask most people which city they would most want to live in and usually their answers would be shaped by such realities as proximity to their jobs and what they can afford. But suppose you could choose to live anywhere you wanted regardless of cost? What if you could live in a city that offered a wealth of culture, entertainment, good schools, low crime, and plenty of green space? Many people might opt for obvious choices such as New York or San Francisco, but great as they are, data reveal other cities are even better.

Cleveland and Cincinnati among poorest big cities
Houston Chronicle, September 22, 2011
A new census report shows two out of the 10 poorest big cities in the U.S. are in Ohio. The American Community Survey released Thursday shows Cleveland has a 34 percent poverty rate. That makes it the No. 3 poorest city with a population of 200,000 or more, behind Detroit and San Bernardino, Calif.

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How carsharing can help a city: the impact of Zipcar in Baltimore

After a year of running its carsharing service in Baltimore, MD, Zipcar released a survey yesterday of its members in the city and the findings are exciting for anyone who supports easy parking, reduced traffic congestion and transportation choices.

According to the survey, people who use Zipcar’s carsharing service reported driving less overall, reduced vehicle ownership and increasing use of other modes of transportation. 18% of respondents have sold their vehicles since joining Zipcar, 46% stated that they have avoided buying a car, and 72% said being a Zipcar member made it less likely they would buy or lease a car in the future. In addition, a full 88% of respondents say they take less than five car trips each month.

All of this means that there are fewer cars on Baltimore roads, and that has great implications for the city.

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The suburban corporate headquarters is losing its charm

The suburban campus headquarters, once the pinnacle of corporate America, is on the decline. Two recent pieces from the Wall Street Journal and Fortune magazine explain that many companies are choosing to leave their suburban headquarters in favor of walkable downtowns with smart growth features.

“The youth of America, when they graduate, they’re looking to go to an urban environment,” Quicken CEO Bill Emerson explained to Fortune. Explaining that top recruits wanted to be in a place where they could live, work and play, Emerson added, “An asphalt parking lot is not necessarily the best way to do that.”

Features like mass transit, shorter commutes, the option of walking to work and access to restaurants and shops – all key principles of smart growth development – are forming a new model of what America’s most desirable workers want. Rather than trying to lure these workers out to the suburbs, many companies – including corporations like United Airlines, Zappos.com, Credit Suisse AG, Panasonic – are relocating to where young, talented professionals want to live. According to Fortune:

In general, suburban or rural locations are cheaper per square foot, have lower taxes, ample parking, and don’t require higher salaries for employees to feel reasonably compensated. But for companies looking to recruit younger people, all those factors have to be weighed against the reality that there is nothing hip about the ‘burbs.

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