Category: States

Recorded webinar: “Amazing Place” kickoff discussion

amazing-place-webinar-iconBoise, 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.

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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.

Posted in Alabama, New Jersey, North Carolina, Rebuilding Downtown, Technical assistance | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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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FDOT’s new Complete Streets implementation plan will take policy into practice

fdot-cs-plan-coverIn September 2014, the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) adopted a Complete Streets policy to help make streets safer for everyone in the state. Now, a new plan created in partnership with Smart Growth America will help turn that policy into on-the-ground changes.

On December 7, 2015, the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) released its Complete Streets Implementation Plan, an ambitious and comprehensive commitment to change the way roads are designed and built in Florida to make them safer for all types of travelers, while also promoting economic development and enhancing quality of life. FDOT developed the plan in partnership with Smart Growth America and our program the National Complete Streets Coalition over a period of nine months through our Multimodal Development and Delivery technical assistance process.

For many years, Florida ranked among the most dangerous states in the nation for pedestrians, with disproportionately high rates of pedestrian fatalities according to our 2011 report, Dangerous by Design. The department’s 2014 Complete Streets policy laid the foundations for making streets safer. Early last year FDOT took the next step and asked Smart Growth America to help fully integrate a Complete Streets approach into the department’s practices, decisions, and investments.

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Ohio expected to join the growing ranks of state DOTs choosing to #RepairPriorities

lancaster-ohA road crew repaving Main Street in Lancaster, OH. Photo by Robert Batina via Flickr.

In 2008, just 6 percent of roads in Ohio were listed as being in “poor” condition. By 2011, though, that number had ballooned to 20 percent — the state was failing to keep up with needed repairs. Yet during that same time Ohio spent millions of dollars building new roads, taking funds away from repair work and adding to the state’s future repair burden.

Many states across the country are in similar predicaments. As Smart Growth America detailed in our 2014 report Repair Priorities, between 2009 and 2011 states collectively spent $20.4 billion annually to build new roads and add new lanes — projects that accounted for just 1 percent of their total road system. During that same time, states spent just $16.5 billion annually repairing and preserving the other 99 percent of their roads. This despite the fact that roads conditions were deteriorating faster than many states could fix them.

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Companies want walkable downtowns, so Governor Andrew Cuomo is making revitalization a key part of his economic development plan

ithacaDowntown Ithaca, NY, is one potential model for walkable development upstate. Photo by Photo by Shannon Williamson, Downtown Ithaca Alliance.

In his State of the State address last week, Governor Andrew Cuomo outlined ambitious plans to spur economic growth in upstate New York, and called for a push to revitalize the region’s struggling downtowns. One of his reasons for focusing on downtown revitalization specifically? Companies across the country want to be located in walkable neighborhoods—as Smart Growth America outlined last year in our report Core Values: Why American Companies are Moving Downtown.

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SeaTac, WA looks to make the most of three light rail stations with an “Implementing TOD” workshop

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The Angle Lake light rail station under construction in SeaTac, WA. A Smart Growth America workshop looked at the potential for new development around the station. Photo by SounderBruce via Flickr.

In early October, Smart Growth America traveled to SeaTac, WA to help the city figure out how to make the most of three light rail stations with an Implementing transit-oriented development 101 workshop.

The City of SeaTac has already adopted area plans for each of its SeaTac Airport, Tukwila International Boulevard, and soon-to-open Angle Lake light rail stations. “In 2016, with the opening of the Angle Lake Station, the City will have three light rail station areas, each with its own distinct attributes, opportunities and challenges,” said Todd Cutts, SeaTac City Manager. “The expert assistance from Smart Growth America will help guide the transformation of these areas and support the community in shaping them into active, interesting, and healthy places.”

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Bolstering economic development in Spokane, WA’s East Sprague District

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A portion of East Sprague Avenue in Spokane, WA. Photo via the City of Spokane.

On September 15 and 16, Smart Growth America traveled to the City of Spokane, WA for a two-day technical assistance workshop on Planning for Fiscal and Economic Health. The workshop helped inform and focus efforts for sustainable economic growth in the East Sprague Corridor, in coordination with the Sprague Targeted Investment Pilot (Sprague TIP) project.

On the first day of the workshop, Spokane-area residents joined an open public forum on the fundamentals of planning for economic and fiscal health. Roger Millar, former Smart Growth America Vice President for Technical Assistance, and Christopher Zimmerman, Smart Growth America’s Vice President for Economic Development, described the changing economic and demographic dynamics that are driving change throughout the United States, and gave an introductory level discussion of planning for economic health in Spokane.

Posted in Economic and Fiscal Benefits workshop, Leadership Institute, Planning for Economic and Fiscal Health, States, Technical assistance, Washington | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment