Smart Growth and Economic Success
Learn about the webinar on Smart Growth and Economic Success held on September 18, 2013.
EPA has developed a series of reports exploring the economic advantages of smart growth for businesses, real estate developers, investors, and local governments. Smart growth development is compact and walkable and provides a diverse range of choices in land uses, building types, transportation, homes, workplace locations, and stores. Businesses, real estate developers, investors, and local governments that understand how smart growth can affect them financially will be better prepared to make development decisionsódecisions that are likely to benefit the environment as well.
(Click here to learn more about the environmental benefits of smart growth strategies.)
EPA held a one-day workshop in December 2011 when business leaders, real estate developers, and economic development professionals came together to share their thoughts and make suggestions about how to expand on work in this area. Discussions from that workshop helped shape these reports. Additional reports will build on this work, exploring how real estate developers and investors can overcome real and perceived barriers to benefit from infill opportunities and why smart growth strategies are good fiscal policy for local governments.
Smart Growth and Economic Success: Benefits for Real Estate Developers, Investors, Businesses, and Local Governments
Smart growth projects are attractive to private-sector interests because they can find a ready market and compete financially. They appeal to local governments because they can be the building blocks of a growing economy and high-quality, economically sustainable neighborhoods and communities while also helping to create a cleaner, healthier environment. Some of the advantages for developers, communities, and local governments associated with smart growth include:
- Compact development:Compact development can reduce the costs of land and infrastructure for individual projects, generate more revenue per acre, and reduce the costs of providing services. By locating companies closer together, compact development can create a density of employment that increases economic productivity and attracts additional investment.
- Walkability: Projects in walkable neighborhoods command a price premium, earning real estate developers and investors a higher return on investment. Improvements to streets and sidewalks to make them more appealing to pedestrians can attract more customers for businesses. In turn, local governments benefit through additional property and sales tax revenue.
- Range of choices: People and businesses value places that bring together a variety of activities to create vibrant environments. The demand for such places exceeds the supply, and changing demographics will likely further this trend. Developers, investors, businesses, and local governments who respond to these market preferences could reap economic advantages.
Smart Growth and Economic Success: The Business Case
Many companies representing diverse business types have recognized that compact, walkable downtowns are good for business and are choosing their operating locations accordingly. This report discusses how locations with housing and transportation options, a mix of uses close together, and a high quality of life can improve environmental outcomes while providing economic advantages for businesses, including:
- Increased productivity and innovation: Easier access to labor, suppliers, and supporting businesses improves productivity. An environment that enables and encourages social interaction both within and among firms leads to more idea exchange, innovation, and collaboration. Making it easy for employees to incorporate physical activity into their daily commutes improves their health and well-being, reducing absenteeism and health care costs.
- Improved ability to compete for labor: Many professionals and recent college graduates prefer to live near where they work and to be able to walk to shops, restaurants, and entertainment. Low-wage workers need access to affordable housing near jobs and transportation options. Businesses in walkable central business districts near transit can meet the needs of both these groups, making it easier to recruit employees.
- Stronger retail sales: Stores find it easier to attract customers when they are in locations that can be reached in multiple ways and provide a diverse, vibrant environment