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Profiles of Business Leadership on Smart Growth: New Partnerships Demonstrate the Economic Benefits of Reducing Sprawl



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In 1999, The National Association of Local Government Professionals (NALGEP) launched the Smart Growth Business Partnership Project to identify businesses that are actively promoting alternatives to sprawl and to better understand the factors that motivate these businesses to takes action. 

Across America, sprawl is emerging as a major concern for many communities. Efforts to curtail unsustainable development have been ongoing for many years, but as more communities see the threat that sprawl poses to their basic quality of life—an important element of economic prosperity—the issue is taking on renewed importance. Some American business leaders are beginning to recognize that sprawl can raise the cost of doing business and reduce long-term profitability. These leaders are forming partnerships with communities to find patterns of development that can more successfully maintain economic growth and preserve livability. The emerging concept of smart growth is a valuable new approach for achieving this sustainable balance. 

To produce this report, NALGEP convened a Smart Growth Advisory Council of business and local officials. We interviewed more than 50 leaders from a variety of business sectors across America, including development, banking, manufacturing, utilities, transportation, real estate, and small busineses. These businesses recognize that sprawl can impact quality of life, the recruitment and maintenance of employees, worker productivity, tax and infrastructure costs, and the economic vitality of the regions on which businesses depend. Moreover, business leaders are seeking ways to connect with their private sector peers - and local communities - to identify how economic growth can continue without the economic impacts of unchecked sprawl. 

In order to initiate a national dialogue on these important issues, our report, Profiles of Business Leadership on Smart Growth, describes the American business community's emerging recognition of the costs and impacts of sprawl; barriers to business leadership on smart growth; strategies for overcoming these barriers; and initial actions that businesses can take to promote livable communities.