Tag: Economic Development

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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Maryland leaders gather to discuss leadership in smart growth at Maryland Association of Counties Winter Conference

 Maryland Association of Counties Winter ConferenceCounty Executive Rushern Baker, Councilmember Roger Berliner, and County Executive Jan Gardner describe the smart growth efforts they are championing.

Over 50 local elected leaders from Maryland, including members of Smart Growth America’s Local Leaders Council, gathered on Wednesday, January 7 to discuss smart growth successes and challenges during the Maryland Association of Counties Winter Conference in Cambridge, MD. Smart Growth America and 1000 Friends of Maryland cosponsored the event.

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Mayor Joy Cooper uses holistic planning for quality of life in Hallandale Beach, FL

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Hallandale Beach Photo by Hugh Millward via Flickr.

Located on the east coast of Florida between Fort Lauderdale and Miami, Hallandale Beach, FL is using holistic planning to create a more livable community for all its residents. Hallandale Beach comprises only 4.4 square miles of land but boasts a population of around 8,000 people per square foot—making it one of the densest cities in Broward County and east Florida.

Mayor Joy Cooper, a member of Smart Growth America’s Local Leaders Council, is the first elected mayor of Hallandale Beach. During her ten years in office she has worked tirelessly to create the livable and walkable community that her residents desire. Today, three major projects are continuing that legacy: implementation of a form-based code, a major redevelopment of the parks system, and a Complete Streets inventory.

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Mayor Denny Doyle uses community input to improve Beaverton, OR

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A rendering shows possible results of the Creekside Redevelopment Plan via Beaverton Facebook.

Located just seven miles west of Portland, OR, the City of Beaverton is using community input to create an extraordinary small-town experience. Already well-regarded for its great schools and green space, Beaverton is home to Nike Headquarters, Columbia Sports, over 16,000 tech employees, and one of the busiest transit hubs in the metro region. This diversified economy has given rise to a diverse Beaverton: one out of every four city residents was born outside of the U.S., and over 100 different languages are spoken in area homes.

Mayor Denny Doyle, a member of Smart Growth America’s Local Leaders Council, has taken all of these important factors into consideration during his six years in office. He considers Beaverton’s diversity a strong asset and works hard to see that every voice is heard. The City’s commitment to community involvement played an essential role in the recently adopted Creekside District Master Plan, which aims to restore three creeks and help create a thriving downtown near the busy transit stop.

The Creekside District Master Plan was started about three years ago. Partially funded by a Department of Housing and Urban Development Sustainable Cities Grant, the plan aims to redevelop a 50-acre area around a local creek and transit center, with the ultimate goal of creating a central downtown where people can live and work near transit. “We want this area to come to life,” says Mayor Doyle of the project’s focal point. “It has been asleep for a long time.” The planned first step involves redeveloping a five-acre area next to Beaverton City Hall, which will serve as a catalyst for the rest of the area.

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Building partnerships to support smart growth in Elizabeth, NJ

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A view of downtown Elizabeth, NJ. Photo via City of Elizabeth.

Home to more 125,000 residents and the largest industrial seaport in North America—all in the space of just 11 square miles—the city of Elizabeth, NJ presents unique challenges for fostering smart growth. “There’s not a lot of room to enhance our city or grow it by expanding the boundaries or adding residents,” says Mayor J. Christian Bollwage, a member of Smart Growth America’s Local Leaders Council. “So the process of smart growth—and making sure there is open space as well as economic development—is extremely important for the mayor of a community like Elizabeth.”

Through 32 years of service as an elected official—22 of them spent in the Mayor’s office—Bollwage has helped guide the city in striking a balance between environmental and economic responsibilities, supported by funds and expertise from diverse sources. One example currently under construction is the Elizabeth River Trail, connecting downtown Elizabeth with the nearby Arthur Kill waterway. When completed, the trail will be 2.5 miles long and accommodate pedestrians, cyclists, and features like kayak launches and public art.

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Councilmember Kathy Galvin commits to bringing equitable development to Charlottesville, VA

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Downtown Mall in Charlottesville, VA. Photo by Bob Mical via Flickr

Charlottesville, VA, is setting itself apart from other college towns through a focus on equitable development. The city, which comprises just 10 square miles in central Virginia’s Albemarle County, boasts a rich heritage with connections to Thomas Jefferson and colonial America. Charlottesville is home to the University of Virginia as well as many historic sites, most famously including Monticello.

For nearly 30 years, Albemarle County has protected its rural areas through strong preservation practices—and residents have felt the benefits. The city has a strong downtown and walkable core, including the downtown pedestrian mall—one of the most successful in the country—and much of the city is within a 15-minute drive from nearby natural areas. Councilmember Kathy Galvin, a long time Charlottesville resident and member of Smart Growth America’s Local Leaders Council, is committed to further strengthening the city’s core and making sure it in an equitable place for all current and future residents.

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Chief Administrative Officer Buddy Boe connects and revitalizes corridors in suburban Louisiana

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Renderings from the Paul Maillard Road Corridor Revitalization Plan. Photo courtesy of St. Charles Parish, LA.

In St. Charles Parish, LA, local officials are betting that two ambitious new projects will spur economic development and noticeably improve connectivity—to a level seldom found in the suburbs.

St. Charles Parish, located 20 miles west of New Orleans, LA on the Mississippi River, boasts a population of 54,000 spread out among several communities. The parish has no concentrated population center, which allows for funding to be spread evenly but creates a unique landscape for smart growth. Buddy Boe, Chief Administrative Officer for the Parish and a member of Smart Growth America’s Local Leaders Council, is working with residents to revitalize existing roads and create central corridors designed to bring the community together and diversify the local economy—currently reliant on industrial and maritime sectors—ensuring a prosperous future for the area.

Like many main thoroughfares in St. Charles Parish, Paul Maillard Road was once a thriving commercial corridor. Despite being home to a local hospital and connecting to one ferry landing and two state highways, the corridor has suffered from several decades of sustained disinvestment and population loss. The street was identified in St. Charles Parish’s Comprehensive Plan as an area ripe for investment and growth. Now, thanks to a 2011 Sustainable Cities Grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), that vision for revitalization is coming to fruition. Just this week, the Paul Maillard Corridor Revitalization Plan was released to the public.

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Planning for livable military communities in North Central Texas

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Near the Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base Fort Worth in Tarrant County, TX, locals have a saying about the aircraft reverberations in the sky: “That noise is the sound of freedom.”

Despite the noise, the Joint Reserve Base forms a big part of the area’s identity and economy. The seven cities that surround the base—Benbrook, Fort Worth, Lake Worth, River Oaks, Sansom Park, Westworth Village, and White Settlement, TX—have a vested interest in supporting that economy, and in growing together as a region. In 2010, they came together to form the Planning for Livable Military Communities (PLMC) project, made possible by a Community Challenge Grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

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Deputy Mayor Lesa Heebner is helping people stop, sit, and shop in Solana Beach, CA

Solana Beach, CASolana Beach, CA’s Cedros Avenue Design District. Photo via the Solana Beach Chamber of Commerce.

Solana Beach, CA is not your average beach town. By combining smart street design and placemaking strategies, the city is creating economic growth and drawing residents and visitors downtown.

“A sense of community really comes from the people, but can be promoted by the place. That’s why we are trying to create places in our downtown area,” says Lesa Heebner, the Deputy Mayor of Solana Beach and a member of Smart Growth America’s Local Leaders Council. Solana Beach is the second smallest city in the region, but that does not mean it lacks flavor. “We’re aiming to create quality locations that serve our residents and where visitors are welcome,” Heebner adds.

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