We wrote about economic gardening in this article back in April. At the Michigan Association of Planning conference in October, our Dick Carlisle and Don Wortman led a session on the topic, focusing on the role of place making in a successful economic gardening program.
Much future economic growth in the U.S. will come from knowledge-based businesses. Unlike manufacturing, whose locations were defined by access to natural resources, energy and transportation networks, knowledge businesses can locate almost anywhere. Their owners may well choose a location based on their lifestyle preferences or because it will help them attract employees.
Communities can attract and grow knowledge businesses with services and infrastructure including
• Educational opportunities
• Incubator programs
• Social connections
• Investment connections
Effective place making also attracts businesses and, of course, the kind of people who seek attractive surroundings in sustainable communities with varied housing, social and cultural amenities, public transportation and easy walking and biking.
Joining Dick and Don’s presentation were Mark Miller, economic development director for the City of Troy, and Pittsfield Township Supervisor Mandy Grewal. Mark offered the following recommendations for successful economic gardening:
• Stop being just a community planner: Take bold steps. Solve problems
• Make sure your master plan and zoning ordinance support your goals
• Create an environment of investment
• Be bold and creative
• Understand that it’s a long term process
Non-urban townships like Pittsfield offer open space and natural environments that knowledge workers may enjoy. Mandy described a master plan that would attract them:
• Create nodes of intense development, preserving open space
• Foster a multi-modal transportation system, emphasizing non-motorized
• Support arts and culture
• Diversify the housing stock
• Promote sustainability.
The Technology Planning Toolkit which CWA developed with Oakland County has much more information about planning for and accommodating knowledge businesses.