Category: Reports

Introducing “Amazing Place”

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For decades, local economic development has revolved around enticing companies to relocate with tax breaks and subsidies. There are a lot of problems with this approach, but perhaps the biggest is that today, it’s a strategy that often simply doesn’t work.

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.

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Join us for the launch of “Amazing Place”

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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.

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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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Introducing “Building Resilient States”

Storms, floods, droughts, landslides, and wildfires have affected thousands of individuals, families, businesses, and communities across the United States in recent years.  

In the immediate aftermath of disasters like these, state agencies play a crucial role in emergency response and recovery. However, states can also ​plan for long-term resilience and help communities ​build in more resilient ways.

Building Resilient States: A Framework for Agencies lays out seven key steps ​state administrations can take to become more resilient. Disaster preparedness professionals can use it to understand how decisions about land use and transportation can support their efforts to protect people, property, and infrastructure across their state.

We’ll be talking all about this new resource—as well as national best practices and how the states of Colorado, New York, and Vermont are using these strategies—during a kickoff panel discussion today at 1:00pm EDT. Register to join us for this free event.

During that event we’ll discuss this emerging field of practice and how some of the nation’s leading disaster preparedness agencies are using land use and transportation strategies to make their states more resilient.

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Introducing “The WalkUP Wake-Up Call: Michigan Metros”

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Walkable real estate development projects and places are on the rise nationwide. LOCUS has looked at how these trends are playing out in Atlanta, Washington, DC, and Boston. Today, we’re excited to unveil the fourth report in our WalkUP Wake-Up Call series.

The WalkUP Wake-Up Call: Michigan Metros looks at development in seven Michigan metropolitan areas: Detroit-Ann Arbor, Grand Rapids-Muskegon-Holland, Lansing, Jackson, Kalamazoo-Battle Creek, Saginaw-Bay City-Midland, and Flint. Our analysis of these areas finds that in the most recent real estate cycle, 22 percent of all new income property development located in the 2.7 percent of land that is walkable urban. This share of new development is up from only 6 percent in the 1990s real estate cycle and 12 percent from the 2001-2008 cycle.

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Introducing “Core Values: Why American Companies are Moving Downtown”

In 2010, global biotechnology company Biogen moved its offices from downtown Cambridge, MA, to a large suburban campus in Weston, 25 minutes away. In 2014, less than four years later, the company moved back.

“There is so much going on in Cambridge,” said Chris Barr, Biogen’s Associate Director of Community Relations. “It is such a vibrant place to live and work—it’s been a great move back for us.”

Biogen is one of hundreds of companies across the United States that have moved to and invested in walkable downtowns over the past five years. Our newest research takes a closer look at this emerging trend.

Core Values: Why American Companies are Moving Downtown is a new report released today by Smart Growth America in partnership with Cushman & Wakefield and the George Washington University School of Business’ Center for Real Estate and Urban Analysis. The new report examines nearly 500 companies that moved to or expanded in walkable downtowns between 2010 and 2015, and includes interviews with more than 40 senior-level staff at those companies.

The results provide an overview of why these companies chose a walkable downtown and what they looked for when considering a new location. The report also includes ideas for cities about how they can create the kinds of places these companies seek.

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New research outlines five reasons to build Complete Streets

What have communities gotten for their investments in Complete Streets?

Fewer automobile collisions and injuries, and more people biking, walking, and taking transit. These projects were inexpensive yet can be effective, and were related to broader economic gains.

These are the findings of Safer Streets, Stronger Economies, released today by Smart Growth America’s National Complete Streets Coalition. The new report analyzes data from 37 Complete Streets projects across the country, and explores the outcomes communities got for their investment. Our new research finds:

Streets were usually safer: Automobile collisions declined in 70 percent of projects, and injuries declined in 56 percent of projects.
This safety has financial value: Within our sample, Complete Streets improvements collectively averted $18.1 million in total collision costs in just one year.
The projects encouraged multimodal travel: Complete Streets projects nearly always resulted in more biking, walking, and transit trips.
Complete Streets projects are cheap: The average cost of a Complete Streets project was just $2.1 million—far less than the $9 million average cost of projects in state transportation improvement plans. 
They can be an important part of economic development: Our findings suggest that Complete Streets projects were supportive of increased employment, net new businesses, higher property values, and new private investment.

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The benefits of Complete Streets — and how to measure them

The National Complete Streets Coalition is coming out with two new resources detailing the benefits of Complete Streets projects, and how to measure them.

Safer Streets,
Stronger Economies

Coming out March 24, 2015
1 PM EDT

How well do Complete Streets projects achieve transportation goals like safety and throughput? How do they support broader economic efforts? This new research looks at data from dozens of Complete Streets projects from across the country to compare the outcomes communities get from their investments. Join the online kickoff discussion to hear about the success some cities have had with Complete Streets.

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Evaluating Complete Streets Projects

Coming out March 31, 2015
1 PM EDT

A Complete Streets approach connects community goals to transportation investments, and measuring the performance of these projects can help communicate that connection. This introductory guide will provide an overview of how to evaluate Complete Streets projects, including the measures and metrics most useful to common goals, and a handy list of resources for more in-depth application. 

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