Communities Get Environmental, Economic Development Help From EPA

The EPA will provide 25 communities with technical assistance to pursue development strategies that advance clean air, clean water, economic development and other local goals.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will provide 25 communities in 19 states with technical assistance to pursue development strategies that advance clean air, clean water, economic development and other local goals. EPA selected the communities from among 76 applicants to the Building Blocks for Sustainable Communities program. In 2017, EPA staff and national experts will conduct one- to two-day workshops to help the communities address development-oriented issues.

economic development“Through our Building Blocks program, local leaders can guide their communities towards a healthier, more vibrant future,” said EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy. “Communities shouldn’t have to choose between protecting the environment and creating economic opportunity.”

EPA selected the following communities to receive the five assistance tools as listed below:

Creating Equitable Development: Helps communities evaluate their priorities to work toward equitable development and support community goals for housing, local businesses, jobs, transportation, and preserving opportunities for residents. Communities receiving this tool are:

  • Brownsville, TX
  • Kingston, NY
  • Lenox, MA
  • Miami, FL
  • Oglala Sioux Tribe/Pine Ridge, SD
  • Pueblo, CO

Planning for Infill Development: Helps local governments identify obstacles to infill development and strategies for overcoming those obstacles. The tool is based on Attracting Infill Development in Distressed Cities: 30 Strategies. Communities receiving the tool are:

  • Apache Junction, AZ
  • Fairview Park, OH
  • Raton, NM
  • Willamina, OR

Sustainable Strategies for Small Cities and Rural Areas: Helps communities evaluate how well their zoning codes, policies, and programs align with smart growth principles. The tool is based on the Smart Growth Self-Assessment for Rural Communities. Communities receiving the tool are:

  • Acadia Parish, LA
  • Bishop, CA
  • Questa, NM
  • Randolph, NE
  • Winona, MN

Flood Resilience for Riverine and Coastal Communities: Helps communities prepare for climate change-related flooding and plan for disaster resilience by assessing local plans, policies, and development regulations. The tool is based on the Flood Resilience Checklist. Communities receiving the tool are:

  • Logansport, LA
  • Myrtle Beach, SC
  • Pocomoke City, MD
  • Skykomish, WA
  • Wareham, MA

Green and Complete Streets: Helps communities develop strategies for greening their streets based on national models and case studies. Communities receiving the tool are:

  • Baltimore, MD
  • Central Falls, RI
  • Detroit, MI
  • Hartford, CT
  • Manatee County, FL

Using the Green and Complete Streets tool, for example, EPA will assist Manatee County, FL by exploring how the county could develop long-term stormwater plans for the 15th Street corridor. These plans would create green space, encourage redevelopment, and reduce flooding while cleaning runoff before it pollutes the Sarasota Bay. EPA will also work with Winona, MN to create a plan that will help the community develop within geographical constraints that include the Mississippi River on one side and bluffs on the other.

Since 2011, the Building Blocks for Sustainable Communities program has provided assistance to 130 communities in 41 states. As a result of this assistance, community groups, local governments, and tribal governments across the nation have increased their capacity to grow and develop in ways that protect the environment, improve public health, create jobs and economic opportunity, and improve overall quality of life.

More information on the Building Blocks program is available on the EPA website.