EPA’S Smart Growth Framework for Small Cities & Towns

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Developed while providing technical assistance to Kelso, Wash., EPA’s 2016 framework can help small cities and towns throughout the country create their own smart economic strategies.

WASHINGTON, D.C. — For small and mid-sized cities seeking help to revitalize struggling communities, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) has prepared the new Framework for Creating a Smart Growth Economic Development Strategy.

Smart growth concepts can help communities overcome challenges.The step-by-step guide explains the five steps municipal governments, regional economic development organizations and others can follow to prepare a place-based economic development strategy.

EPA developed this tool as part of a Smart Growth Implementation Assistance project for Kelso, a small town with 12,000 people located about 50 mile north of Portland, Ore. Once a center for commercial smelt fishing, Kelso, like a lot of towns built on a single or few economic engines, is looking to explore how it can attract investment and open up opportunities1. EPA looked at supporting businesses, workers and quality of life. Through the process, the team focused on:

  • Making the distinction between growth and investment
  • Being tactical and strategic
  • Remaining focused
  • Following momentum
  • Finding the right partners for specific goals
  • Communicating and better coordination

With these imperatives in mind, the stakeholders created the Framework steps with tips, examples, goals, indicators, targets, actions and more.

  • Step 1: Select a Focus Area
  • Step 2: Define the Context
  • Step 3: Set Goals
  • Step 4: Identify Existing Assets and Barriers
  • Step 5: Select the Right Tools

Learn more, download the Framework and access additional smart growth resources for small towns and rural communities.

1 https://www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2015-05/documents/using-smart-growth-strategies-foster-economic-development-kelso.pdf

About the author

Andrea Fox

Andrea Fox

Andrea Fox is Editor of EfficientGov.com and Senior Editor at Lexipol. She is based in Massachusetts.