Building Resilient States: Profiles in Action

In October 2015, the Governors’ Institute on Community Design, a program run in partnership with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Smart Growth America, released Building Resilient States: A Framework for Agencies, a report intended to introduce and integrate land use and transportation issues into states’ conversations about resilience. The Framework was designed to help … Continued

A “Gateway” to economic opportunity: Raleigh, NC prepares for inclusive growth

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The Southern Gateway’s iconic view of downtown Raleigh.

Raleigh, NC is well on its way to becoming one of the South’s next major population hubs. To accommodate that rapid population growth and to help more people participate in the economic growth it will likely entail, Raleigh leaders are planning to create a Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) line. In October, Smart Growth America traveled to Raleigh to convene a Successful and Equitable Revitalization workshop to help the community ensure that project is both economically successful and socially equitable.

Case Studies in Smart Growth Implementation: Camden County, North Carolina

These case studies present Smart Growth America’s key findings and the lessons we’ve learned about smart growth implementation from a four-year technical assistance program funded by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The cases are meant to help communities that are committed to (or are exploring) smart growth but struggle with implementation. The cases highlight successful … Continued

Jersey City, Birmingham, and Raleigh win new workshops for revitalization without displacement

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Birmingham, AL’s Woodlawn neighborhood will be the focus of Smart Growth America’s new partnership with that city. Photo via.

Communities large and small are looking for ways to create prosperity that everyone can participate in. Smart Growth America’s new Planning for Successful and Equitable Revitalization program is designed to help.

In partnership with PNC, this new addition to our technical assistance offerings will help communities revitalize successfully and capture benefits from the revitalization process for families of all income levels.

What’s the value of a great downtown? Joe Minicozzi can tell you exactly, in dollars and cents.

minicozzi-joe-300x225One of the main reasons Smart Growth America advocates for compact, walkable urban development is because this approach can greatly benefit the finances of municipalities. Smart growth strategies can reduce infrastructure costs and ongoing expenses for cities while also boosting tax revenues. Smart Growth America’s own work has shown that, and we know this to be true too because of the outstanding work of others in the field like Joe Minicozzi, AICP and the principal at Urban3, LLC, a consultancy based out of Asheville, NC. We’re fans of their work and and cite it often as yet another illustration of how good smart growth can be for city finances. We want to take this opportunity to highlight some of the evidence Minicozzi has amassed over the years demonstrating smart growth’s fiscal benefits.

Urban3 has been hired by cities and towns across the United States and Canada to analyze the financial implications of their development strategies. Most city planners and elected officials understand that a city brings in more tax revenue when people shop and eat out, Minicozzi explained in 2012, but they often underestimate just how much more valuable this economic activity is when it happens downtown rather than on a city’s outskirts.

Since the workshop: Region-wide prosperity is collaborative effort in Graham County, NC

graham-county-ncA new regional vision will help Graham County, NC and its neighbors work together to achieve shared goals.

In April 2013, Smart Growth America traveled to Graham County, NC to hold a “Smart Growth 101” workshop for county staff. The workshop was designed to provide an introduction to smart growth development strategies, including ideas about how the county could work with other jurisdictions in the region to achieve its long-term goals.

This past January that work took a big step forward with the release of Opt-In SWNC: The Regional Vision. The report was authored by the Southwestern North Carolina Planning and Economic Development Commission, which represents a seven-county region in southwest North Carolina that includes Graham County.

A transportation engineer on what convinced him to use a Complete Streets approach

west-jefferson“Crazy ideas” in action: Complete Streets features in downtown West Jefferson, NC.

On Tuesday we hosted a panel discussion about Safer Streets, Stronger Economies, new research from the National Complete Streets Coalition on the outcomes of Complete Streets projects across the country. If you missed the event, read our full recap and watch the recorded webinar.

Dean Ledbetter, a Senior Engineer at the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT), joined the panel to discuss the Complete Streets project in downtown West Jefferson, NC. There were so many questions about working with transportation engineers, and for Dean specifically, that we said down with him for a follow-up conversation.

Alex Dodds: You mentioned that you initially thought that Complete Streets was a “crazy idea,” but that eventually you changed your mind. What convinced you?
Dean Ledbetter: I don’t know if there was one specific thing. I think I had to go through the [Federal Highway Administration’s] training several times for the reality of something new to overpower the existing “knowledge” I had about what my job was supposed to be. And I have to admit that we only went to those classes to get the free Professional Development Hours not because we really expected to learn anything useful.

Since the workshop: Charlotte moves forward planning $120 million neighborhood investment

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Charlotte, NC skyline via Flickr.

The last time we checked in with Charlotte, we learned that the City Council had approved a Capital Investment Plan for $120 million for catalytic economic development and community reinvestment projects.

Now, the public has given their go-ahead. This November, voters approved the first two-year, $20 million investment in the program.

These funds will go to high-impact projects in five targeted areas of the city, namely Whitehall/Ayrsley, Prosperity Village, West Trade/Rozelles Ferry, Sunset/Beattie’s Ford and Central/Abermarle/Shamrock. The goal? To strengthen these neighborhood by making them more desirable for commercial and retail development and mixed-income housing.

Person County, NC plans for residential and economic growth

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Uptown Roxboro, NC. Picture via Roxboro Development Group.

Person County, NC’s community’s workshop goal: “To help local leaders and community members identify how Person County can manage growth and economic development in such a way that our strategies for these two issues complement one another and both contribute to the vision set forth for Person County in the Person Futures Strategic Plan.”

On December 2 and 3, representatives from Smart Growth America (SGA) met with county and municipal leaders and residents to provide assistance under the Planning for Fiscal and Economic Health tool, supported by a grant from the U.S. EPA’s Building Blocks for Sustainable Communities program.