Our newest video tells the story of how Pittsburgh’s former mayor decided to take action on building safer, complete streets, why the city’s new mayor is picking up the baton with a focus on equity, and how city staff are making progress across administrations.
Boise, Denver, Greenville, Minneapolis, Nashville, and Pittsburgh are six of the many cities using a new strategy for economic development. Rather than offering tax breaks to lure companies, these cities are creating walkable, vibrant, inclusive neighborhoods that are attracting residents and employers, supporting existing businesses, and fostering entrepreneurs.
We talk about this new approach in our most recent report, Amazing Place: Six Cities Using the New Recipe for Economic Development. The report takes an in-depth look at the development strategies at work in these six cities, and is designed to show communities everywhere how to create diverse and durable local economies that last beyond the lifecycle of any one employer.
As part of Tuesday’s kickoff for the new report, we hosted an online conversation about creating these amazing places. Participants heard an overview of the guide as well as a detailed discussion about development in Denver, Greenville, and Pittsburgh. A recorded version of the webinar is now available.
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.
Last year the city of Pittsburgh, PA received a $15 million U.S Department of Transportation TIGER IV Grant for the construction of a multi-modal transit center in the city’s East Liberty neighborhood. The transit center will serve as the hub for nearly 1,000 bus arrivals and departures per day.
The board of the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) recently adopted a Transit Revitalization District Implementation Plan which calls for future real estate tax revenue to secure bonds to finance infrastructure improvements in East Liberty, furthering the city’s transit oriented development goals.
Improvements for the transit center include a two-level station linking bus rapid transit service with street level bus service as well as realignment and reopening of streets, sidewalks, landscaping, a replacement road bridge, adaptive traffic signals, and a bike and pedestrian access bridge.
Pittsburgh, PA skyline. Photo taken by Flickr user wallyg.
In the 20th century, as the result of its booming steel industry, Pittsburgh was thriving as one of the largest cities in the country. But, during the 1970s and 80s, Pittsburgh lost a lot of the success that it once held, due to the collapse of that same industry. The population was cut in half and there was a long period of economic stagnation.
Today, though, Pittsburgh’s economy is on the mend. If there was a golden lining to that period of economic stagnation, it was that the city avoided excess sprawl and financially insolvent development patterns.
Community officials want to use to their advantage as they prime for a new era of prosperity in Pittsburgh. City leaders and residents are gradually reshaping the way Pittsburgh thinks about planning and design, with the goal of transforming the city into a model of sustainable development.
East Liberty finds formula for success
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, September 25, 2011
When East Liberty Development Inc. officials were roughing out strategies to improve the Pittsburgh neighborhood, a big question was what to do with some 50 vacant properties. The properties were robbing tax-paying homeowners of their equity, discouraging investment and exacerbating crime and other factors. This had led the neighborhood to become what Rob Stephany, director of the city Urban Redevelopment Authority, calls “below the line” — a place you don’t visit. They decided to buy them all, rehabilitate some themselves, sell others to rehab-minded buyers and tear down the rest.
Suburban Ghetto: Poverty Rates Soar in Suburbia
Time, September 26, 2011
For well over half a century, the American dream has typically centered on life in the suburbs. A move to the idyllic suburbs—picket fences, sidewalks, cul-de-sacs, the whole deal—has traditionally signified success, a move up the economic ladder. Lately, however, the ‘burbs host millions more residents living below the poverty level than do America’s “poor” inner cities, and poverty rates in suburbia are rising faster than any other residential setting.
In-fill proposal looks to give Stockton a greener image
The Record (Calif.), September 23, 2011
With the right kind of development, downtown Stockton could become the kind of place where people live in apartments or condominiums, commute by train to Silicon Valley jobs before returning home, where they can bike or walk to do their shopping or run other errands.
Christie to annul Council on Affordable Housing
Asbury Park Press (N.J.), Wednesday June 30, 2011
As part of the other changes, the Department of State would become the home of the State Planning Commission and Office of Smart Growth, both now part of DCA, and the Business Retention and Attraction Division, now at the Economic Development Authority. All have connections with economic growth, which has become one of the primary responsibilities of Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno, who is also the secretary of state.
Cool factor lures the young, artsy to Detroit
Detroit News (Mich.), June 29, 2011
Detroit, city of 100,719 vacant parcels and three Starbucks, has discovered its marketing niche: land of the young, daring and bohemian. And more businesses, foundations and city leaders are investing in the idea.
Are McMansions Coming Back in Style?
Wall Street Journal Developments Blog, June 29, 2011
In January, we reported that the average size of a new single-family home shrunk to 2,377 square feet last year, down 3 percent from 2009, according to the National Association of Home Builders. And it’s not clear that younger buyers will embrace the McMansion in the same way their parents did. Presenters at the annual NAHB convention in Orlando told Developments in January that large, cookie-cutter suburban homes wouldn’t appeal to the younger generation of home buyers.
The Best Public Transportation Systems In The World
Business Insider, June 29, 2011
Thanks to the climbing price of gas, driving is quickly turning into a pastime for the rich and famous. So unless you’re ready to re-mortgage your house, you may have to leave your car at home and hop on a subway, bus or light rail to get to work. Not sure what to expect? We’ve put together a top 10 list of public transportation systems in the world to give you an idea of what cities have the best mass transit available to the working public.
Census finds Pittsburgh is growing younger
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, May 19, 2011
“The unusual drop in the city’s median age was among the findings in the U.S. Census Bureau’s release today of new information from last year’s population count. For both the city of Pittsburgh and Allegheny County, the number of elderly residents as well as their percentage of the overall population are on the decline.”
Gary, Ind., struggles with population loss
USA Today, May 19, 2011
“The 2010 Census crystallized Gary’s decline: The population, which peaked at 178,320 in 1960, is now 80,294. From 2000 through last year’s count, Gary lost 22% of its residents. The city’s unemployment rate in February was 9.8%. Gary — like Detroit, which lost 25% of its people in the past decade — faces tough questions: What is the best way to shrink a city? How can city government provide adequate services as its tax base contracts? How can new employers and residents be wooed to a place known more for blight than for opportunity?”
Sound Transit to invest $2.1M in rail,bus ridership research
Seattle Times, May 19, 2011
“Sound Transit will spend as much as $2.1 million for consultants to conduct market research, in hopes of boosting its rail and bus ridership. ‘Finding out what will get people out of their cars and into our services is going to require some deep research and talking to a lot of people in our region,’ said communications Director Ron Klein.”
Poll: Gas prices causing hardship for 4 in 10 Americans
Chicago Tribune, May 19, 2001
“With gasoline prices hovering at $4 a gallon nationally, many Americans are making tough choices: scaling back summer vacations, driving less or ditching the car altogether. Some seniors are choosing a tank of gas over their prescriptions. An Associated Press-GfK poll shows the share of Americans who say increases in the price of gasoline will cause serious financial hardship for them or their family in the next six months now tops 4 in 10. Overall in the poll, 71 percent said rising prices will cause some hardship for them and their family, including 41 percent who called it a “serious” hardship. Just 29 percent said rising prices are not causing a negative impact on their finances.”
Never Too Old To Bike To Work (video)
Grist, May 19, 2011
“Gilbert admits to being in her “high 70s,” and she has been biking since she was a 7-year-old in France. She and her friends didn’t have phones, so if they wanted to talk, they hopped on their bikes and went and found each other.”