Cheyenne Metropolitan Planning Organization focuses on long-term development goals during Smart Growth America workshop

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Downtown Cheyenne, WY. Photo via Flickr.

Cheyenne, WY is working to grow in ways that support the community’s economy as well as the quality of life for residents, and as part of that work the Cheyenne Metropolitan Planning Organization welcomed experts from Smart Growth America on April 21 and 22, 2015 for a “Planning for Economic and Fiscal Health” technical assistance workshop.

Cheyenne-area residents joined the workshop’s first day for an introductory presentation that featured an overview of the relationship between how a community grows and the health of its economy and local finances.

Technical assistance

Announcing the recipients of Smart Growth America's 2015 free technical assistance


The City of Franklin, TN is one of 14 communities that will receive a free technical assistance workshop from Smart Growth America in 2015.

Smart Growth America is pleased to announce the 14 communities selected to receive free workshops in 2015 as part of our free technical assistance program.

Technical assistance

Green River, WY hosts workshop to align development code with master plan

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The sun sets over Tollgate Rock in Green River, WY. Photo by Jonathan Percy, via Flickr.

When a small town has big plans for changing its development patterns, how does it put them into action? From fixing restrictive codes to working with the real estate community—what the first steps to smart growth?

On August 27 and 28, 2014, officials and residents from Green River, WY met with representatives from Smart Growth America for an expert-led workshop focused on implementing the ambitious vision inside the new Green River Comprehensive Master Plan. Provided as part of a free, grant-funded technical assistance program, the two-day event was designed to provide the City with tools to modernize its development codes so that they encourage the types of growth outlined in the plan’s vision.

The Green River Comprehensive Master Plan was adopted in January 2013 after a year-long public input process. The plan lays out the community’s long-term vision and serves as a blueprint for future growth and investment within the city and surrounding areas. For the implementation process, Green River leaders sought technical assistance from Smart Growth America, hoping to bring the city’s development codes into better alignment with the master plan’s principles. The resulting two-day workshop helped Green River identify high-priority code fixes to promote infill development and redevelopment, preserve and revitalize existing neighborhoods, and promote orderly development in suitable outlying areas.

Technical assistance

Downtown revitalization helps Cheyenne, WY remain competitive

The WranglerDowntown Cheyenne, WY. Photo by Cliff, via Flickr.

Cheyenne, WY is at a crossroads. As the state capital of Wyoming, the city of 65,000 residents has long represented the cultural identity and values traditionally associated with the rural American West. Yet just 90 miles north of Denver, CO, Cheyenne is also a growing participant in the economy of the Front Range region, which includes Denver, Boulder, Colorado Springs and Ft. Collins among other major and mid-sized metropolitan regions in northern Colorado.

“Residents in Cheyenne want to become a part of that growing Front Range economy, while still being rooted in the values of Wyoming,” says Cheyenne’s Planning Services Director Matt Ashby, a member of Smart Growth America’s Local Leaders Council. For Ashby, balancing these two sides of the city is about attracting new investment to Cheyenne while preserving the city’s unique character.

Local Leaders Council Uncategorized

Kim Billimoria on preserving business and beauty in Yellowstone

The greater Yellowstone region stretches across Idaho, Montana and Wyoming, encompassing dozens of counties and mile after mile of unparalleled natural resources. Its stunning beauty attracts thousands of visitors every year and is the primary basis for economic development in the area. As a result, residents and tourists alike see significant value in preserving the environment and ensuring its existence for future generations.

That concern for the Yellowstone ecosystem as a vital community asset is the underlying principle of the Yellowstone Business Partnership.

“The Yellowstone business partnership is a non-profit organization that works at an eco-system level,” says the organization’s communications specialist Kim Billimoria. “It was founded by a group of business people that recognized that if we’re going to preserve the greater Yellowstone ecosystem – which is one of the largest last intact ecosystems in the entire world – we have to harness the power of business.”

Local Leaders Council Uncategorized

Making the most of limited transportation dollars: WYDOT does it right

State Departments of Transportation (DOTs) across the country face tightening budgets, and one DOT recently stepped up to make the most of the funds it has.

The Wyoming Department of Transportation (WYDOT) has positioned itself responsibly for the future. On November 16, the agency announced it will stop approving highway expansion projects and will focus resources toward repair of the state’s existing road system. This announcement comes just months after the publication of Repair Priorities, a report by Smart Growth America and Taxpayers for Common Sense, which made recommendations along these lines.

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Smart Growth America offers ideas for growth in Jackson Hole, WY

The town of Jackson and Teton County, WY, are in the process of jointly updating their 1994 Comprehensive Plan — a piece of legislation that guides policy, investment, programs, and land use decisions in the area. Updating the Plan is a complex process but one which will help it better meet the needs of Town and County residents, businesses, and other stakeholders.

PlanJH, a diverse group of community members from the Jackson/Teton area, has helped facilitate public discussion of the issues surrounding the Comprehensive Plan, and in May the group held a public presentation about smart growth strategies. Roger Millar, Director of Smart Growth America’s Leadership Institute, was on hand to answer questions and offer strategies that could help Jackson residents fulfill their vision of community success.

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Repair Priorities: Transportation spending strategies to save taxpayer dollars and improve roads

Decades of underinvestment in regular repair have left many states’ roads in poor condition, and the cost of repairing these roads is rising faster than many states can address them. These liabilities are outlined in a new report by Smart Growth America and Taxpayers for Common Sense, released today, which examines road conditions and spending priorities in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. The report recommends changes at both the state and federal level that can reduce future liabilities, benefit taxpayers and create a better transportation system.

Repair Priorities: Transportation spending strategies to save taxpayer dollars and improve roads found that between 2004 and 2008 states spent 43 percent of total road construction and preservation funds on repair of existing roads, while the remaining 57 percent of funds went to new construction. That means 57 percent of these funds was spent on only 1 percent of the nation’s roads, while only 43 percent was dedicated to preserving the 99 percent of the system that already existed. As a result of these spending decisions, road conditions in many states are getting worse and costs for taxpayers are going up.

“Federal taxpayers have an enormous stake in seeing that our roads are kept in good condition,” said Erich W. Zimmermann of Taxpayers for Common Sense at a briefing earlier today. “Billions of precious tax dollars were spent to build our highway system, and neglecting repair squanders that investment. Keeping our roads in good condition reduces taxpayers’ future liabilities.”

“Spending too little on repair and allowing roads to fall apart exposes states and the federal government to huge financial liabilities,” said Roger Millar of Smart Growth America. “Our findings show that in order to bring their roads into good condition and maintain them that way, states would collectively have to spend $43 billion every year for the next 20 years – more than they currently spend on all repair, preservation and new capacity combined. As this figure illustrates, state have drifted too far from regular preservation and repair and in so doing have created a deficit that is going to take decades to reverse.”

The high cost of poor conditions
According to the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, every $1 spent to keep a road in good condition avoids $6-14 needed later to rebuild the same road once it has deteriorated significantly. Investing too little on road repair increases these future liabilities, and with every dollar spent on new construction many states add to a system they are already failing to keep in good condition.

State and federal leaders can do more to see that highway funds are spent in ways that benefits driver and taxpayers. More information about the high cost of delaying road repair, how states invest their transportation dollars and what leaders can do to address these concerns is available in the full report.

Click here to read the full report, state-specific data and view the interactive map.

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New report reveals smart transportation spending creates jobs, grows the economy

In his State of the Union address, President Obama called on Americans to “out-innovate, out-educate, and out-build the rest of the world” to win the future. To rebuild America, he said, we will aim to put “more Americans to work repairing crumbling roads and bridges.”

A new report from Smart Growth America analyzes states’ investments in infrastructure to determine whether they made the best use of their spending based on job creation numbers. Recent Lessons from the Stimulus: Transportation Funding and Job Creation evaluates how successful states have been in creating jobs with their flexible $26.6 billion of transportation funds from the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act (ARRA). Those results should guide governors and other leaders in revitalizing America’s transportation system, maximizing job creation from transportation dollars and rebuilding the economy.

According to data sent by the states to Congress, the states that created the most jobs were the ones that invested in public transportation projects and projects that maintained and repaired existing roads and bridges. The states that spent their funds predominantly building new roads and bridges created fewer jobs.

As Newsweek’s David A. Graham explains, investments in transportation create jobs in the short term and longer term economic prosperity too:

Injecting money into transportation projects, the thinking goes, is an especially potent jobs-creation tool because it not only puts construction workers and contractors to work quickly, it also lays the groundwork for future economic growth and development. Obama predicted the transportation money alone would put hundreds of thousands of workers on the job.

As “Recent Lessons from the Stimulus” explains, not all transportation projects reap these benefits equally:

[S]tates spent more than a third of the money on building new roads—rather than working on public transportation and fixing up existing roads and bridges. The result of the indiscriminate spending? States missed out on potentially thousands of new jobs—and bridges, roads, and overpasses around the country are still crumbling. Meanwhile, the states that did put dollars toward public transportation were richly rewarded: Each dollar used on transit was 75 percent more effective at putting people to work than a dollar used for highway work.

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