Category: Local Leaders Council

Place-based economic development in Pelahatchie, MS, Urbana, IL, and Stamford, CT at Policy Forum 2016

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Libby Tyler speaks about place-based economic development in Urbana, IL as part of Policy Forum 2016.

Pelahatchie, MS, Urbana, IL, and Stamford, CT, are three very different communities with different economies and demographics. However, all of them are using a place-based approach to their economic development, and they have lessons to share with other communities interested in doing the same.

Local leaders from across the country came together in July for the Local Leaders Council Policy Forum 2016, a day-long summit in Washington, DC on revitalizing communities, placemaking, and preventing displacement. Place-based Economic Development was one of three tracks discussed at the conference. Revitalization without Displacement and Jumpstarting Revitalization were the other two.

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Revitalization without Displacement in Washington, DC and Detroit, MI at Policy Forum 2016

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Courtney Snowden, Deputy Mayor of Economic Opportunity for Washington, DC speaks as part of a panel at the third annual Local Leaders Council Policy Forum in Washington, DC. Photo by Ted Eytan on Flickr.

Development can do great things for a city—as long as neighborhoods can keep their communities and their culture intact. That’s the philosophy guiding the work of Courtney Snowden, Washington DC Deputy Mayor of Greater Economic Opportunity, and Conan Smith, Commissioner of Washtenaw County, MI, who spoke about “Revitalization without Displacement” at the 2016 Local Leaders Council Policy Forum on July 19, 2016 in Washington, DC.

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Transit-oriented development assistance will help Honolulu, HI make more housing more affordable

East_Kapolei_NeighborhoodPlans for the East Kapolei Neighborhood. Photo via the City of Honolulu.

When the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) announced last week that Honolulu, HI would be among nine cities to receive new technical assistance for transit-oriented development, Honolulu Planning Director George Atta knew exactly how the assistance could help the city.

“We are hoping that transit oriented development will help us with our severe affordable housing problem,” Atta said.

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Calling all elected leaders of rural communities

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Being a small, rural community hasn’t stopped Pelahatchie, MS from creating a great downtown. Photo via the Pelahatchie Comprehensive Plan.

Are you a local elected official in a rural community and interested in smart growth strategies? If so, we want to hear from you.

Later this spring, Smart Growth America’s Local Leaders Council will launch our new Rural Leaders Network, a group of elected and appointed leaders from rural communities across the country. The Network will be an opportunity for rural leaders to share ideas, collaborate, network, and learn how a smart growth approach can work in rural places.

Many rural communities are facing declining populations and faltering local economies. Others are struggling to preserve their identity in the path of expanding urban regions or demand for development near natural resources. Smart growth strategies can help with both these sets of challenges, and connecting with fellow rural leaders is a great way to learn how.

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Registration now open for Local Leaders Council Policy Forum 2016

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Registration is now open for our Local Leaders Council‘s Policy Forum 2016, taking place July 18-19, 2016 at the Kaiser Permanente Center for Total Health in Washington, DC.

This annual conference gives local elected and appointed officials a chance to learn about some of the most innovative smart growth projects in the country. This year’s theme — “Solutions for Local Success” — will focus on allowing local leaders from communities of all sizes to share their stories and find tools to solve current challenges. The Forum is a unique opportunity to explore the latest policy solutions and network with like-minded colleagues who are making smart growth happen throughout the country.

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Mayor Paul Soglin works to make sure Madison, WI’s independent businesses serve visitors AND residents

Many cities envy Madison, WI’s thriving State Street retail corridor. After being converted from a four-lane road to a pedestrian-focused thoroughfare in 1974, State Street has become synonymous with funky retail stores and welcoming locals. It’s a draw for University of Wisconsin students, residents, and visitors alike, and an important economic and cultural asset for the city. According to Downtown Madison Inc.’s latest State of Downtown report, Madison’s Central Business Improvement District (BID), which contains State Street, saw vacancy rates decline from 7.5 percent in 2012 to just 4.6 percent in 2014.

In recent years, however, the mix of retail on State Street has trended toward businesses focused more on food and drink and less on goods and services. According to Downtown Madison, Inc., 40 percent of businesses in the Central BID are food and drink businesses—but only 25 percent are other types of retail. Local leaders are concerned that if this shift continues, the area will fail to meet the everyday needs of local residents.

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Recorded webinar: “(Re)Building Downtown: A Guidebook for Revitalization”

rebuilding6Are you interested in helping your community revitalize its downtown, but don’t know where to start?

Yesterday, Smart Growth America released (Re)Building Downtown: A Guidebook for Revitalization, a new resource for local leaders who want to re-invigorate and strengthen neighborhood centers of economy, culture, and history through a smart growth approach to development. The guide lays out in straightforward language seven main steps to help (re)build downtowns and Main Streets, and is designed to be used by any community, no matter where they are in the revitalization process.

As part of yesterday’s kickoff, we hosted an online conversation all about downtown revitalization. Participants heard an overview of the new guidebook, and discussed revitalization efforts in three different communities. A recorded version of the webinar is now available.

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Introducing “(Re)Building Downtown: A Guidebook for Revitalization”

Downtowns, Main Streets, and city centers across the country are witnessing a renaissance. As more Americans chose the convenience and connectivity of walkable neighborhoods, communities are seeing new businesses, restaurants, and shops open in areas that were formerly vacant or economically distressed.

This movement is an exciting opportunity for communities. But for many places, the work needed to create a vibrant downtown can seem daunting. A new guidebook is designed to help.

(Re)Building Downtown: A Guidebook for Revitalization, released today, is a new guide for local elected officials who want to re-invigorate and strengthen neighborhood centers of economy, culture, and history through a smart growth approach to development. The guide lays out in straightforward language seven main steps to take, and it’s designed to be used by any community, no matter where you are in the revitalization process.

We’ll be talking all about this guide during a kickoff panel discussion today at 1:00 pm EST. Register to join us for this free online event.

Joining the conversation will be Alex Morrison, Executive Director at Macon-Bibb County, GA Urban Development Authority; Mayor John Engen of Missoula, MT; and Will Schroeer, Executive Director, East Metro Strong of Saint Paul, MN. We welcome your questions and ideas for our panelists or about the new guidebook. Join the conversation on Twitter at the hashtag #RebuildingDowntown.

Today’s new guide is a fantastic resource for any community interested in a stronger, more vibrant downtown. Check out the new guidebook to learn more.

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