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.
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.
Accessory Dwelling Units, such as this one in Northern California, can provide affordable housing and rental income for homeowners. Photo via Forbes.
Creating affordable rental housing in a community is often a long and arduous process. One strategy to combat this is for cities to allow the creation of Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) through amended zoning codes. ADUs, also known as “granny flats” are small apartments built on a property with a preexisting home as the primary structure. Units typically function as studio apartments and tend to accommodate one or two people. ADUs can allow for seniors to age in place, provide homeowners with extra rental income, and fill a gap in affordable rental units.
A METRO Green Line train in downtown St. Paul, MN. Photo by Metro Transit via Flickr.
Smart Growth America staff are headed to Rail~volution 2014, next week and we want to see you there! Join us on September 21-24 in Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN, at one of the many sessions we will be speaking on or facilitating.
Minneapolis and Saint Paul, MN, have formed an innovative partnership aimed at taking the Twin Cities region to a new level of prosperity. The Minneapolis-St. Paul Metropolitan Business Plan, created as a part of the Brookings Institution’s Metropolitan Policy Program, is a long-term strategy for sustainable economic growth in which the cities will pool their assets rather than competing against each other. Minneapolis-St. Paul is home to a number of universities and colleges, Fortune 500 companies and medical research facilities, and the region’s business plan will help reduce transaction costs between businesses, inventors, suppliers, workers and consumers through better infrastructure and networking programs.
Economic activity thrives where transaction costs are lowest, and the Minneapolis-St. Paul plan aims to reduce these costs whenever possible. One of the ways the plan will do this is by constructing a light-rail line linking universities, medical and research institutions, central business districts and population centers throughout the region. Doing so will increase interaction between businesses and connect the area’s patent-holders with the economic actors that have capital to invest, hopefully increasing the percentage of inventions from the region that make it into the global marketplace. In addition to connecting existing assets like universities and medical centers, the cities will also encourage new development along the light-rail line to maximize the return on their investment.
This week’s news include a new policy in Rockville, MD, some complete streets inspired musings in Indiana, data supporting the safety in numbers theory, and more.
Far too often, the insanity of minimum parking requirements drive development decisions, to the detriment of just about everyone — a theme best developed by UCLA’s Don Shoup in his terrific book, The High Cost of Free Parking. Another story, as both data point and lesson: Our favorite local micro-brewery gives tours; we went last Friday evening, where we heard a version of this story.