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Smart Growth Implementation Assistance

This video describes technical assistance from EPA’s Smart Growth Implementation Assistance Program to help the city of Phoenix, the city of Mesa, and the Valley Metro Transit Authority plan transit-oriented development (TOD) around light rail. Today, TOD is thriving in the corridor, partially as a result of financial incentives identified during the technical assistance. The Sustainable Communities Collaborative - a group of government, private sector, and nonprofit stakeholders from Phoenix, Tempe, and Mesa - launched a $20 million Sustainable Communities Fund Link to EPA's External Link Disclaimer in 2011 to support TOD. The fund has provided loans for about 800 new housing units in the light rail corridor.

Many communities want to foster economic growth, protect environmental resources, enhance public health, and plan for development, but may lack the tools, resources, and information to achieve their goals. In response to this demand, EPA developed the Smart Growth Implementation Assistance (SGIA) Program.

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Background on the Smart Growth Implementation Assistance Program

The SGIA program started in 2005 with annual, competitive solicitations open to state, local, regional, and tribal governments (and non-profits that have partnered with a governmental entity) that wanted to incorporate smart growth techniques into their future development. Beginning in 2015, EPA will work with regional staff to identify and select communities rather than issue a Request for Letters of Interest.

Once selected, communities will receive direct technical assistance from a team of national experts in one of two areas: policy analysis (e.g., reviewing state and local codes, school siting guidelines, transportation policies, etc.) or public participatory processes (e.g., visioning, design workshops, alternative analysis, build-out analysis, etc.). The assistance is tailored to the community's unique situation and priorities. EPA provides the assistance through a contractor team – not a grant. Through a multiple-day site visit and a detailed final report, the multi-disciplinary teams provide information to help the community achieve its goal of encouraging growth that fosters economic progress and environmental protection.

EPA initiated the SGIA program with three goals in mind:

  1. To support communities interested in implementing smart growth policies;
  2. To create regional examples of smart growth that can catalyze similar projects in the area; and
  3. To identify common barriers and opportunities for smart growth development and create new tools that other communities can use.

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Communities that have received assistance

EPA typically helps 3 to 5 communities each year through the SGIA program. Summaries and the final reports for the communities that have received assistance are available here.

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Other tools and technical assistance programs

Please see our Making Smart Growth Happen page for links to more tools and technical assistance programs.

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