Through projects with the National Association of Development Organizations (NADO), the U.S. EPA, and others, ICMA provides technical assistance and knowledge resources to the small towns and rural communities that are engaged in regional sustainability planning.
Rural communities and small towns are often portrayed in iconic Jeffersonian terms, when the reality is often quite divergent from mainstream notions. Like other communities more urban in nature, small towns and rural America are facing myriad challenges, ranging from job and population losses in many places to development pressures and changing landscapes in others. Access to jobs, services, and transportation options are often limited. Furthermore, small towns and rural communities often have limited local government service delivery and planning capacity. Small towns and rural communities with village, town and county managers are a core constituency of ICMA. In the United States there are more than 6,500 communities with a population between 2,500 and 50,000 and there are thousands more small places where fewer than 2,500 people reside. More than 4,000 ICMA members currently work in communities with less than 50,000 full time residents.
In partnership with the National Association of Development Organizations, the National Association of Counties and others, ICMA has provided technical assistance and support to small towns and rural places that are engaged in the HUD-funded regional sustainability planning grants. As part of this project, ICMA developed white papers on topics such as asset based economic development and delivered other content through forums such as webinars and web workshops as well as other resources developed through other projects including ICMA's most often downloaded publication--Putting Smart Growth to Work in Rural Communities.
Putting Smart Growth to Work in Rural Communities, 2010: This report focuses on smart growth strategies that can help guide growth in rural areas while protecting natural and working lands and preserving the rural character of existing communities. These strategies are based around three central goals: 1) support the rural landscape by creating an economic climate that enhances the viability of working lands and conserves natural lands; 2) help existing places to thrive by taking care of assets and investments such as downtowns, Main Streets, existing infrastructure, and places that the community values; and 3) create great new places by building vibrant, enduring neighborhoods and communities that people, especially young people, don’t want to leave. This report was developed under a cooperative agreement with the U.S. EPA.
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