City by city, side by side: A look back at 2016’s free technical assistance

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Participants at our 2016 workshop in Chattanooga, TN.

Last week we announced the six new communities that will receive one of our free standard technical assistance workshops in 2017. This program, now in its sixth year and funded by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Sustainable Communities’ Building Blocks for Sustainable Communities Program, has helped more than 70 communities across the country use development strategies to meet their goals.

As we look forward to working with next year’s communities, we wanted to take a moment to look back on the diversity of faces and places we’ve visited this year.

Working together to develop local strategies for strong rural communities

This post was originally published by Megan McConville, Senior Policy Advisor to the Rural Housing Service Administrator on the USDA blog.  How will decisions about where we locate new development or upgrade existing infrastructure impact our future economic vitality and fiscal health?  How can we site and plan public facilities and housing so they have the … Continued

Announcing the recipients of Smart Growth America's 2016 free technical assistance

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Kansas City, MO is one of the communities that will receive a 2016 free technical assistance workshop.

Smart Growth America is pleased to announce seven communities that have been selected to receive our free technical assistance workshops in 2016.

Each year, Smart Growth America makes a limited number of technical assistance workshops available to interested communities at zero cost. This competitive award gives communities a chance to understand the technical aspects of smart growth development and build a strategy to achieve their goals through a one- or two-day workshop on a subject of their choosing.

Columbia, MO aims to get parking right

Downtown Columbus, MO Notley Hawkins PhotographyBroadway in downtown Columbia, MO , where parking is sometimes tough to come by. Photo courtesy of Notley Hawkins Photography

Columbia, MO has a state university in the heart of downtown, and its 35,000 students keep the small city bustling. So bustling, in fact, that neighborhood residents and people who drive downtown often find parking at a premium or tough to come by.

Committed local leaders are a key advantage in free workshop competition

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.

Council Member Cindy Pool helps Ellisville, MO reimagine a suburban highway

ellisville-mdAn architect’s rendering of proposed changes to Manchester Road, which runs through Ballwin, Ellisville, and Wildwood, MO. Photo via MODOT.

Ellisville, MO has a chance to turn a busy and dangerous roadway into a community asset for economic investment, and Council Member Cindy Pool, a member of Smart Growth America’s Local Leaders Council, is helping the city do just that.

Located 18 miles directly west of St. Louis, Ellisville is a suburban community of about 9,100 residents. “The people are what makes this town so special,” says Council Member Pool. “Our residents are educated, involved, and have developed a real sense of community because we are so small.”

Dangerous by Design 2014: Missouri

The National Complete Streets Coalition reports on the national epidemic of pedestrian fatalities, offering county-, metro-, and state-level data on traffic fatalities and an interactive map of each loss in the decade 2003 through 2012. This resource specific profiles the state of Misouri.

Councilmember Ian Thomas on building a healthy, sustainable Columbia, MO

Columbia, MOColumbia, MO. Photo by Chris Yunker via Flickr.

When Columbia, MO Councilmember Ian Thomas, a member of Smart Growth America’s Local Leaders Council, first moved to the United States from his native London in the 1990s, the impact of the built environment on quality of life became abundantly clear. First settling in a suburb of Nashville, TN, Thomas found its car-oriented design limiting to an active, healthy lifestyle and lacking in access for residents to fresh food, safe places for recreation, and accessibility to necessary services.

Councilmember Jan Marcason on transforming Kansas City, MO's downtown

Councilmember Jan Marcason talks about turning around Kansas City, Missouri’s downtown after a period of serious decline. “We completely transformed our downtown to become a place where people are interested in working and staying after work to go to some of our entertainment centers…We know that without a vibrant downtown, the rest of the metropolitan … Continued