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Vibrant NEO 2040 and Scenario Planning

March 7, 2013 in Engagement, News, Scenario Planning

SCENARIOS are stories about the future.  They summarize likely future outcomes based on what we know about the present and what we know about how the world works.  Every weather forecast, for example, presents a scenario for the future, based on what meteorologists know about the current weather and what they know about how weather patterns develop. 

VibrantNEO 2040’s scenarios will tell stories about our possible futures, based on where Northeast Ohio is today and the choices we might make about how we use our land and how we invest our resources.  Once we create these scenarios, we will be able to compare how successful they are at achieving our common goals for the region, judge which choices would be best for Northeast Ohio’s future, and create a shared vision and framework for the future around those choices.

VibrantNEO 2040’s Scenario Planning 

Step 1: Where is Northeast Ohio today?

Every VibrantNEO 2040 scenario will start with measuring where we are now and identifying trends that may affect our future: These include what is happening with our population, how are we using land, what policies are we pursuing and enacting, what are we investing in, and many more factors. 

Step 2: What if we keep doing what we are doing now?

The first scenario VibrantNEO 2040 will develop is called “Business-As-Usual.” It outlines what Northeast Ohio’s future will look like if we keep doing what we are currently doing – what will our communities look like, how successful will our economy be, and how much will it likely cost us, if we keep our current policies and approaches to land use, transportation and development in place?

Step 3: What if we pursue different priorities?

Once we know what will happen if we keep doing what we are currently doing, we can begin to ask how the future might change if we start doing things differently.  What if we decide to protect certain types of land use or choose to make broadening the different types of housing options available to Northeast Ohioans our number one goal? Each of these choices could lead to a different scenario.

To know which scenarios to create, VibrantNEO 2040 is asking people from all across Northeast Ohio to participate in scenario-building exercises that will help make sure we are focused on the things Northeast Ohioans think are most important.  Working with the information gathered through these exercises and the other ways the public can participate, we will develop a small set of ALTERNATIVE scenarios about Northeast Ohio’s future to go along with the Business-As-Usual scenario.

 

Step 4: What scenarios lead to the best outcomes?

To judge the choices we make in the Business-As-Usual scenario and the other scenarios we develop, we will need to identify Scenario Indicators, which allow us to measure and compare trends and likely outcomes in the different scenarios.  These indicators will reflect Northeast Ohio’s priorities, will be easy to understand, will work across all the scenarios being reviewed, and will help show our region’s long-term health.  The indicators that we settle on will serve as a scorecard to rate the different scenarios.  Based on this scorecard we will be able to judge the results of the choices we might make.

Step 5: How should we prioritize our choices for Northeast Ohio?

In addition to knowing the likely results of the choices we make, we also need to know what our choices will cost, and how they might pay off.  For this, VibrantNEO 2040 will develop a detailed Fiscal Impact Analysis, which will allow us to explore the financial trade-offs we might have to make to achieve our goals for the region.  With our scenarios, indicators, and fiscal impact analysis in hand, VibrantNEO 2040 will challenge Northeast Ohioans to have a thoughtful, region-wide conversation about what we really value about our region and what we are willing to invest in those values.

Step 6: What does our preferred vision of Northeast Ohio’s future look like?

Knowing what we as Northeast Ohioans value and how we prefer to prioritize our region’s choices and investments, VibrantNEO 2040 will take what we have learned from its different scenarios – what worked best in each scenario in pursuing Northeast Ohio’s goals and priorities – and build a new scenario for the region that maximizes our outcomes.  This will be the final product of VibrantNEO’s Scenario Planning: Our region’s Preferred Scenario for its future.

WHAT’S NEXT?

VibrantNEO’s Preferred Scenario will represent the best path that Northeast Ohio can take to create the kind of future it wants for this region.  Once the Preferred Scenario is complete, VibrantNEO 2040 will turn to its next step of moving Northeast Ohio down this path: IMPLEMENTATION.


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Attention Developers and Investors: Smart Growth and Economic Success

January 16, 2013 in News, Planning and Zoning, Quality Connected Places

Smart Growth and Economic Success

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. Such development 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: Using land and resources more efficiently and redeveloping old or neglected areas while retaining existing infrastructure can create economic advantages for real estate developers and investors, businesses, and local governments. Compact development can generate more revenue per acre because it uses land more efficiently. It can reduce the costs of land and infrastructure for individual projects and the costs of providing fire and police protection, utilities, schools, and other public amenities. By locating companies closer together, compact development can create a density of employment that increases economic productivity and attracts additional investment.
  • Walkability: Walkable neighborhoods have well-connected streets and a mix of land uses near each other, making not only walking but also bicycling and transit more convenient and appealing. 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 benefit local businesses by attracting more customers. 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. Many people in the two largest demographic cohorts, baby boomers and their children, are particularly interested in lively neighborhoods with their daily needs close by. Communities with access to transit also help people reduce their transportation costs, enabling them to save money or spend more on their homes, entertainment, or other things they value. Changing demographics will likely further increase the demand for smart growth development over the coming decades; developers, investors, businesses, and local governments who respond to these market preferences could reap economic advantages.

Smart Growth and Economic Success is the first in a series of reports from EPA’s Smart Growth Program designed to inform developers, businesses, local government, and other groups about the benefits of smart growth development. This report incorporates feedback from 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. 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, how decisions about where to locate will impact the bottom lines of businesses, and why smart growth strategies are good fiscal policy for local governments.Visit the EPA website to download a PDF of the Report.

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New Online Resource Provides Data for Northeast Ohio

January 9, 2013 in Conditions and Trends, News, Tool, Toolkiit

A unique partnership between three leading institutions has released a new tool that provides data on conditions in Northeast Ohio.

The Northeast Ohio Data Collaborative, formed in early 2012, announced the availability of NEO CANDO 2010+. This interactive online data portal provides information about demographic, socioeconomic, and other data that help define and promote understanding of the human landscape of Northeast Ohio. Access NEO CANDO 2010+ at http://neocando.case.edu/index.shtml.

Claudia Coulton, co-director of the Center on Urban Poverty and Community Development at Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences of Case Western Reserve University, explained, “The development of the original NEO CANDO put our region ahead of other parts of the country. This update includes the latest data, has new features, and operates faster, keeping Northeast Ohio at the forefront.”

  

Features of NEO CANDO 2010+

  • Free and publicly accessible resource
  • Easily downloadable demographic and socioeconomic data
  • On-demand mapping based on a Google Maps platform
  • Revised geographies that reflect changes since the 2000 Census
  • Data from the 2010 Census for the entire 17-county Northeast Ohio region including by county, municipality, and some neighborhoods
  • Customizable reports allowing user to select certain indicators or geographies
  • Ability for future expansion to more data sources, such as birth and death records, property information, and health indicators

 

To read the full story at Planetizen, click here.

To learn more about the initiative at the Center for Community Solutions, click here.

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Learn and Create: AMATS Connecting Communities Grants

October 30, 2012 in AMATS, Communications, MPOS, Portage, Summit

AMATS, the Akron Metropolitan Area Transportation Study, is one of the four Metropolitan Planning Organizations involved in Vibrant NEO 2040 that we discussed in our post last week.  One of their many initiatives is the Connecting Communities program which “is designed to provide communities with funding to develop transportation plans that will lead to the identification of projects eligible for AMATS funds.”

The Connecting Communities grant program was a recommendation from  AMATS’s Connecting Communities Planning Initiative (link is to a large pdf file) in 2010.

 

The purpose of Connecting Communities – A Guide to Integrating Land Use and Transportation is to promote a region that balances environmental, social and economic concerns by improving coordination between land use and transportation. Connecting Communities utilizes a regional planning process to explore strategies to increase transportation choices and accessibility, help communities make collaborative, informed decisions to coordinate development, reduce environmental impacts and improve regional connectivity.

The intent of this initiative is to create more vibrant livable communities though coordinating resources, partners and stakeholders to integrate transportation and land use planning and decisions in the greater Akron area. It looks at how transportation funding, project selection and planning can better complement land use planning that encourages investment and revitalization of established neighborhoods and regional collaboration.

AMATS has announced another round for the grant process for those in its planning area (Portage and Summit County) will open on November 1, 2012:

From AMATS website…

The purpose of these plans will focus on the concept of livability. Plans should enhance neighborhoods by improving transportation connections and promoting alternative modes of transportation like walking, biking, and transit. Grant funding will be used to hire a consultant to study a general area of a community. The funds will not be used for preliminary engineering, but instead will be used to develop a plan containing analysis and recommendations. Recommended projects will then be eligible for inclusion in the Regional Transportation Plan.

The program makes $100,000 available with awards being limited to $50,000 per grant. No local funding match is required for this grant.

Grant Schedule

Notice of Funding Availability: November 1, 2012

Application: November 30, 2012

Applications Due: January 15, 2013

Award Announcement: March 2013 Policy Committee Meeting

Questions may be directed to Heather Davis Reidl at 330.375.2436 or hreidl@akronohio.gov.

 

 
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