State and Regional Policy Guide

State policymakers can play a huge role in creating smarter, more economically robust communities and regions. State policy decisions have a large and direct impact on economic development, land conservation, environmental protection, transportation, education and the provision of water, sewer and other infrastructure.

In state after state, governors are searching for ways to make smarter decisions with limited state resources and Smart Growth America’s state policy recommendations are meant to help do just that. The recommendations included here are meant to give governors, cabinet secretaries and state legislators ideas about how to use policy, administrative action and spending decisions to strengthen the state’s economy and produce smarter growth in their state.

About these recommendations
Several areas of state policy are discussed in the pages to follow. Comprehensive Approaches discusses the “big picture” issues any state interested in smarter growth should consider. The nine additional sections are divided along state departments: Agriculture, Economic Development, Education, Energy, Health, Housing, Natural Resources and Environment, Planning and Transportation.

We see these issues as interconnected and interdependent: policies in one department can support and even enhance the policies of another. A fundamental goal of these suggestions is to help state policymakers look at decisions made in each of these areas in a new light.

Economic development and growth present a variety of pressures and challenges from state to state and even from region to region within states. Some states have already implemented many of the policies suggested here; others may find these ideas to be new and innovative ways to address old problems. We hope many of the ideas included here can be replicated or adapted for use in as many states as possible. In doing so, state leaders can help bring economic vitality to their towns and cities, protect the most beautiful and ecologically sensitive lands that remain in their states, improve public health and reap the rewards associated with providing their citizens with a better quality of life.