Grow Smart Rhode Island
Smart Growth e-Briefs
  Monthly Briefs from Grow Smart Rhode Island August 2003  

This Month

Economic-Environmental Partnerships for Smart Growth: Conference Follow-up

Historic Tax Credit Program Paying Big Dividends in RI

Grow Smart & Partners Announce 4 Training Programs

Grants Available to Aid Affordable Housing Plans

Density: Myth & Reality

Grow Smart Joins "Best Workplaces For Commuters" Coalition

National Vacant Properties Campaign Launched

Economic-Environmental Partnerships for Smart Growth: Conference Follow-up

The directors of Rhode Island's principal agencies for economic development and environmental protection engaged an audience of 100 professionals and community leaders in an interactive discussion of our state's challenges and opportunities in integrating the needs of the economy with those of the environment.

Grow Smart executive director Scott Wolf moderated a 2-hour panel discussion featuring Michael McMahon, Director of the RI Economic Development Corporation, Jan Reitsma, Director of the RI Department of Environmental Management and Grover Fugate, Director of the RI Coastal Resources Management Council.

The discussion focused on three broad topics: Setting goals in a tight economy; Creating strategies to jumpstart brownfield redevelopment; and The role of emerging environmental technologies in Rhode Island's economy.

The Conference was co-hosted by Grow Smart Rhode Island and the Rhode Island Chapter of the Environmental Business Council of New England

Final Registration List

Providence Journal Article

Providence Business News Article

Providence Business News Editorial

   Dear John,

Welcome to another issue of "Smart Growth e-Briefs", a monthly update of the latest happenings and tools in the smart growth movement.

  • Historic Tax Credit Program Paying Big Dividends in RI
  •   The state commercial historic tax credit program, which went into effect in January 2002 after intense advocay by Grow Smart & many other organizations, is already showing a significant return on investment. Plans for 56 proposed projects have since been approved representing an investment of $189 million and an estimated 8,500 new jobs, according to the Rhode Island Historic Preservation & Heritage Commission (RIHPHC), the agency that administers the state and federal historic tax credit programs.

    Compared to the 24-month period before the law took effect, the number of projects utilizing historic tax credits has tripled and the amount of investment in commercial preservation has increased ten-fold. The law is also demonstrating the potential to help ease a statewide housing crisis. The number of low & moderate income housing units to be rehabbed through the use of historic tax credits has doubled to 193 and the number of market rate housing units to be created increased from 8 to 750.

    See How The Tax Credits Work

    Rhode Island Historic Preservation & Heritage Commission

  • Grow Smart & Partners Announce 4 Training Programs

    Grow Smart Rhode Island and its coalition of training partners will present four different training programs for municipalities in the fall of 2003 and winter/spring of 2004. In addition to continuing to offer Making Good Land-Use Decisions, which has been presented to 25 communities to date, the coalition will present three new training programs on Affordable Housing, Conservation Development and Site Plan Review. Training announcements have already been mailed to municipal administrators, planners and planning board chairs.

    Download the Flyer

  • Grants Available to Aid Affordable Housing Plans
  •   The Rhode Island Housing & Mortgage Finance Corporation (RIHMFC) has announced the availability of $100,000. in Targeted Assistance Grants to help municipalities comply with the state Low & Moderate Income Housing Act. These grants are available to fund the development of plans that encourage the creation of affordable housing, and can also be used for other activities from producing neighborhood revitalization plans to conducting housing feasibility studies.

    The grants are available on an on-going basis until all funds have been committed. For more info, contact us at 457-1146.

    More Information

    Email Us

  • Density: Myth & Reality
  •   The Boston Society of Architects (BSA), the American Institutes of Architects (AIA) national committees on Housing and Regional and Urban Design, the AIA's Center for Livable Communities and the BSA's Civic Initiative for a Livable New England are sponsoring a national conference on density on September 12-14, 2003 in Boston. The program-"Density: Myth and Reality"- has two components: a national conference for design professionals, planners, journalists and municipal officials and a national design competition to be held in advance of the conference.

    Density can play a key role in reviving urban centers, containing sprawl, and creating a sense of place in older suburban environments. The conference will address this controversial topic and explore "designing for density" in settings that range from large and small cities to older suburbs.

    Conference Details

    Boston Globe Op/Ed by BSA President David Dixon

  • Grow Smart Joins "Best Workplaces For Commuters" Coalition
  •    Grow Smart Rhode Island is pleased to announce that it has joined a coalition of partners in the EPA's "Best Workplaces for Commuters" campaign. The New England Best Workplaces for Commuters list - similar to Fortune Magazine's list of the 100 best employers to work for - recognizes employers with outstanding commuter benefits such as transit passes, vanpool subsidies, bike and telework programs.

    Employers who qualify and get on the list by September 30 will receive media recognition and promotion throughout the fall. To find out if your employer qualifies, click below.

    See if Your Employer Qualifies

    2003 Preliminary List of "Best Workplaces Commuters"

  • National Vacant Properties Campaign Launched
  •   Rhode Island communities can now benefit from tools and technical assistance being made available through the National Vacant Properties Campaign.

    The campaign is a project of Smart Growth America (SGA), the International City/County Management Association (ICMA) and the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC). The campaign is funded by the generous support of the Fannie Mae Foundation and the US Environmental Protection Agency.

    Download Brochure (292 kb pdf)

  • Realtors See Improving Market for Smart Growth
  •    In its current issue of On Common Ground, THE NATIONAL ASSOCIATION of REALTORS (NAR) presents a series of articles that address the subject of supply and demand for Smart Growth. According to the NAR, a recent survey indicates that the market potential of Smart Growth is increasing.

    By looking at particular market niches, such as homebuyers who want to live near transit, or those who wish to live in historic urban neighborhoods, and by studying survey, demographic, and property investment data, the NAR is beginning to piece together what the future of Smart Growth might be.

    View the Articles

  • How Walkable is your Community?
  •    The Walkability Checklist can help you find the answer. Inside you'll find insightful questions, allowing you to evaluate your neighborhood's walkability. In addition to the questions, the Checklist provides both immediate and long-term solutions to potential problems.

    Pick a place to walk, like the route to school or a friend's house. As you walk, use the checklist to describe problem areas and things to change. After the walk, answer all of the questions and you'll see how your route rates on the walkability scale. Take heart if you find problems, there are many ways you can make a positive difference.

    Download the Checklist (216k)

  • If You Appreciate Our Work ...
  •    ... why not make a contribution. Grow Smart Rhode Island is a 501 (c)(3) non-profit organization representing a broad coalition of interests dedicated to reversing the negative impacts of sprawl and urban disinvestment. We depend on tax-deductible contributions from concerned individuals and organizations to carry out the fight for better-managed growth, a strong, sustainable economy, a healthy environment and a just society for all Rhode Islanders.

    Please consider a donation of $30, $50, $100, $500, $1000 or whatever is right for your budget. We'll send a written tax-deductible receipt for your records. Simply click on the credit card below. Thank you.

    Download our printed form and mail in

    See Who's Contributing to Grow Smart

    visit our site

    Scott Wolf - Executive Director

    Sheila Brush - Director of Programs

    John Flaherty - Director of Research & Communications

    phone: 401-273-5711

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