Investing in Place

This is an article that everyone in Ashtabula County should read and heed.

A wide-ranging 2014 national survey by the American Planning Association (APA) finds that Millennials and Baby Boomers want cities (and this includes smaller communities as well) to focus less on recruiting new companies and more on investing in new transportation options, walkable communities, and making the area as attractive as possible. The poll also showed the perceived importance of shared economies, high-speed internet access and housing where they can live as they grow older.

The poll found that 68 percent of respondents believe the U.S. economy is fundamentally flawed.  They also believe the best way to make improvements nationally during the next five years is through local economies and investments that make cities, suburbs, small towns and rural areas attractive and economically desirable places to live and work.

  • 65 percent of respondents believe investing in schools, transportation choices and walkable areas is a better way to grow the economy than investing in recruiting companies to move to the area.
  • Whether the community is a small town, suburban or urban location,  49 percent of respondents someday want to live in a walkable community, while only seven percent want to live where they have to drive to most places.

“If there is a single message from this poll,” said APA Executive Director Paul Farmer, FAICP, “it’s that place matters. Community characteristics like affordability, transportation choices, safe streets, high-speed internet and housing that can accommodate others or enable you to live there as you grow older matter as much as job opportunities.”

Among other key findings:

  • 74 percent of the Millennials surveyed said attracting new businesses by investing in schools, transportation options and walkable areas is better than recruitment of companies;
  • 79 percent of respondents cited living expenses as important when deciding where to live;
  • 76 percent of respondents said affordable and convenient transportation options other than cars is at least somewhat important when deciding where to live and work;
  • 59 percent of respondents said the “shared” economy, such as CarToGo or Airbnb , is at least somewhat important to them.

“We recognize that providing people more options to get about effectively than just relying on the car will pose a host of planning and design challenges,” said APA President William Anderson, FAICP. “Yet such a finding is one of the reasons we conducted this poll. As planners, it’s vital that we look ahead 15 or 20 years and find ways to lessen the impact of current growth and development on tomorrow’s communities.”

“Part of what makes communities healthy and attractive,” Anderson continued, “is their unique character — what distinguishes them from other places. To prosper, communities need to look ahead and plan so they can build on their local strengths and embrace the opportunities changing times will present.”

Fifty-nine percent say that technologically enabled sharing services are at least somewhat important to them.   Beyond the specifics of high-speed internet service and the nascent “sharing” economy, these findings suggest that technology and a culture of innovation and connectivity may be important factors for communities to attract new residents and businesses.

Seventy-five percent of respondents agreed it is important for where they live to have a plan to address changing conditions and emergencies. Sixty percent also expressed the importance of being able to stay in the same home as they grow older — or “age in place.”

Download the full report here.

I agree that place-making is essential to the future of communities. Growth Partnership’s new Forward Ashtabula County Action Plan gives considerable attention to this priority. In addition, we give major attention to home-growing companies with an emphasis on Stage 2 companies (10-50 employees, $1-$10 million in sales, in business 3-5 years). Economic development and community development have a great deal to offer each other. The two should be done in a coordinated and integrated way. Stay tuned.


One thought on “Investing in Place

  1. Very important message.
    We as a society are returning to our roots — living communities.
    The sprawling suburbs bring with them huge costs for the future generations in repairing/replacing the infrastructures that support them. Our country is so large and our infrastructure needs are so great, we should look at where we can minimize them. Europe has learned these lessons centuries ago.

    The reason cities like Chicago, NYC, Boston, Washington D.C. (Downtown) are still so desirable is because they are “living” cities, not just places to work and then escape to the suburbs. While urban areas are not for everyone while raising their families, the suburban areas can be planned so much differently.
    They’re here to stay, but the future generations want their living areas to be better planned out.
    Good examples of this can be found in the Greenfield communities in Florida and Las Vegas.

    Liked by 1 person

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