Tag: Economic Development

Committed local leaders are a key advantage in free workshop competition

Councilmember Michael Trapp, right, at parking audit workshop in Columbia, MO in 2015.

“Involvement of key community leaders” is one of five criteria Smart Growth America uses to select which communities receive our free technical assistance workshops each year. In fact, a letter of commitment signed by “the mayor, county commission chair, or comparable elected leader” is one of the requirements for applying.

Members of Smart Growth America’s Local Leaders Council are a natural fit for this requirement, with a demonstrated interest in smarter development strategies. Over the past five years, 23 of the more than 50 winning communities have been home to current and future Local Leaders Council members. Here’s a look at how Local Leaders Council members have used these competitive awards.

In 2013, the Village of Park Forest, IL won a sustainable land use code audit workshop, which served as a kickoff event for the Village’s work revising its zoning and subdivision ordinances. The workshop was an opportunity to fill in gaps in technical expertise, gauge public interest in sustainable land use codes, and bring a fresh set of eyes to the process.

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Saco, ME is breaking out of short-term cycles with long-term thinking

SacoPhoto: Saco, ME, Jasperado via Flickr.

Maintaining New England traditions is at the top of Saco, ME’s agenda. How can this small city maintain the physical, economic, and cultural assets that make it unique while also changing in ways that make it a desirable destination for tourists, homebuyers, businesses, and investors?

Saco recently wrapped up a future visioning process intended to answer these questions and guide future public investments and economic development initiatives. Mayor Don Pilon, a member of Smart Growth America’s Local Leaders Council, explains that short Council terms (lasting just two years) were part of the impetus for the visioning process, known as Bridge 2025. “We all sit down and think through what we want to accomplish in the two years that we have,” Mayor Pilon explained, but there was rarely common vision for what should happen beyond that budget cycle. To establish that, Mayor Pilon deliberately stepped back and supported a process that put businesses, residents, and other stakeholders in the driver’s seat. “This had to be driven by the public,” he explained. “When we’re gone, this needs to be continued by the stakeholders. This is their product, not our product.”

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Leveraging community history and scenic location for economic and fiscal resilience in Fort Pierre, SD

fort-pierreClockwise from left: Fireworks on Fort Pierre’s riverfront, a visiting pow wow, and homes on canals connected to the Missouri River. Photos via the South Dakota Department of Tourism.

Fort Pierre, SD – population 2,078 – is approaching its bicentennial in 2017 and it’s a place where locals say, “history here is close enough to touch.” With plans in the works to revitalize its downtown and riverfront, the City is working to make sure it’s well positioned for the next 200 years, too.

To aid in that effort Mayor Gloria Hanson and other city leaders welcomed Smart Growth America’s technical assistance team on July 22 and 23, 2015 for a two-day workshop on how smart growth development strategies can help Fort Pierre grow more financially stable and successful.

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Leaders discuss walkable design and economic development at Policy Forum 2015

Tommy WellsFormer Washington, DC Councilmember Tommy Wells speaking at the second annual Local Leaders Council Policy Forum on June 1, 2015 in Washington, DC.

How can walkable design help build a vibrant local economy? And what can local leaders do to make this happen? Two dozen leaders from diverse communities discussed these questions during a session at the Local Leaders Council Policy Forum, held on June 1 in Washington, D.C.

Moderating the session was former Washington, DC Councilmember Tommy Wells, a member of Smart Growth America’s Local Leaders Council. Wells’ district made several advances in sustainable design and planning during his tenure, and his practical knowledge of governance, politics, and policy set the framework for the conversation.

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Green Carts are tackling New York City’s food deserts

Green Carts in New York City, NY. Photo via the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. How difficult is it for you to pick up a tomato for tonight’s dinner or some apples for the week? Unfortunately, for over 23 million people in …

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Neighborhood revitalization workshop teaches Maryland leaders new strategies and ways to overcome challenges

Maryland revitalization workshopLocal leaders from Western Maryland and Maryland’s Eastern Shore discuss revitalization challenges and successes.

Nearly twenty members of the Maryland Chapter of Smart Growth America’s Local Leaders Council gathered in Silver Spring, MD on Friday, March 13 for a Revitalizing Downtowns and Regional Centers for the Triple Bottom Line workshop sponsored by Smart Growth America and 1000 Friends of Maryland. Montgomery County Councilmember Hans Riemer, an Advisory Board member of the Maryland Chapter, sponsored the event at the Silver Spring Civic Building in the heart of Downtown Silver Spring.

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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

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

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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Mason, MI is growing from the inside out

Mason AerialDowntown Mason, MI. Photo courtesy of the City of Mason.

Mason, MI, established in the 19th century as a small town center, eventually became the seat of the surrounding county while vying to become the new state capital. Although Lansing, located just to the north, was ultimately selected as the capital, Mason has managed to remain a small but distinct community while experiencing population growth of roughly 20 percent in the last decade.

“Mason is a very friendly and welcoming place where people take a lot of pride in the community,” says Mayor Pro Tem Marlon Brown, a member of Smart Growth America’s Local Leaders Council. “Ultimately, what makes Mason so special are the people.”

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Councilmember Ali Saleh uses smart growth to build economic resilience in Bell, California

City of Bell, California. Photo via Joshua Orizaga on Google.

The City of Bell is a small two-square-mile suburb on the outskirts of Los Angeles, CA. Following a political scandal in the early 2000s that left the city almost bankrupt, Bell has made a remarkable recovery. With their finances back on track, it is more important than ever for the city to make fiscally responsible decisions and improve the lives of residents. The city is using smart growth to make that happen.

Councilmember Ali Saleh, a member of Smart Growth America’s Local Leaders Council, has been instrumental to the City of Bell’s fiscal stability. Elected in 2011, Saleh first served as mayor and now sits on the City Council. Saleh has supported several smart growth strategies that will improve the economy and the day-to-day lives of residents.

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Commissioner Ron Beitler on Lower Macungie, PA: A Community at a Crossroads

macungie Hamilton Boulevard in Lower Macungie, PA, overlaid with an artist’s rendering of proposed changed. Image by Kairos Design Group for Lower Macungie Township.

Creating a better, stronger Lower Macungie Township is about more than just a job for Commissioner Ron Beitler. It’s about his roots and hometown pride, it’s about his future and the future of his family. For Beitler, a vibrant Lower Macungie is deeply personal.

Beitler, a member of Smart Growth America’s Local Leaders Council, is a lifelong resident of Lower Macungie, PA, a third-ring suburb of Allentown located on the western end of the Lehigh Valley. Beitler and his wife live in a house less than three blocks away from the house he grew up in, where his parents still live. In fact, most of Beitler’s family members live in Lower Macungie.

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