The National Center for Smart Growth
(NCSG) announces the launch of a Sustainable and Equitable Economic Development (SEED) Initiative for the State of Maryland. Funded by a $400,000 grant from the Surdna Foundation
, the initiative aims to eliminate obstacles faced by low income and underserved populations while simultaneously promoting environmental sustainability. Partners engaged in the initiative include the Maryland Department of Planning
and a coalition of Maryland-based non-profit organizations.
“The National Center for Smart Growth is extremely pleased that the Surdna Foundation has chosen to support this unique partnership designed to foster economic opportunity and sustainable growth,” said Gerrit Knaap, director of the National Center for Smart Growth. “By working closely with the Maryland Department of Planning and several experienced non-profit organizations, we feel we have the capacity to rapidly transmit cutting edge research into sound public policy and well informed advocacy that will quickly improve the lives of Maryland residents.”
The initiative is designed to discover new information that can be used to guide the work of nonprofit partners, the Maryland Department of Planning and other agencies in their efforts to create more sustainable and equitable economic development throughout the state. This includes better public transportation options, closer jobs-housing balance, increased housing options, green jobs and targeted workforce development. The initiative includes several primary tasks:
Mapping Opportunity: In-Depth Economic Analysis through Data Integration
The SEED initiative begins with an extensive analysis of economic, social and environmental trends, focusing specifically on gaps in existing programs and emerging industrial opportunities statewide. This includes identifying underserved populations throughout the state. “Opportunity mapping,” which involves identifying areas of high and low opportunity through variables such as high performing schools, access to quality health care, safe neighborhoods and availability of sustainable employment, will be combined with NCSG’s comprehensive statewide transportation model and advanced data sets. The collective information will provide a long-term look at economic and environmental trends, helping to build a strategy for more sustainable economic development.
Translating Information into Action
Using the data collected, the initiative will develop a strategy to promote sustainable and equitable economic development and incorporate it into a larger sustainable development program of the O’Malley administration. This includes PlanMaryland, the state’s first development plan being drafted by the Maryland Department of Planning in collaboration with the Maryland Sustainable Growth Commission and the Governor’s Smart Growth Subcabinet.
Collaborate with Organizations Engaged in the Community
The initiative will empower a coalition of civic and non-profit organizations to engage communities through outreach and advocacy. This will insure that non-traditional as well as traditional stakeholders are engaged and contribute through the process. The coalition, which represents economic development, housing, transportation and environmental interests, will be led by four primary organizations: the Central Maryland Transportation Alliance, the Baltimore Regional Initiative Developing Genuine Equality (BRIDGE), the Job Opportunities Task Force and 1000 Friends of Maryland. These organizations will work with other state advocacy groups to promote the strategies identified by the initiative over the long term.
The SEED initiative will be rolled out over three years and will commence immediately. To insure the program’s success, the initiative will coordinate among the core groups while strengthening linkages and networks with other local, state and national organizations.
Located at the University of Maryland, College Park, the National Center for Smart Growth is a non-partisan center for research and leadership training on smart growth and related land use issues in Maryland, in metropolitan regions around the nation, and in Asia and Europe.
The Surdna Foundation, a philanthropic organization founded in 1917 by John Andrus, seeks to foster just and sustainable communities in the United States—communities guided by principles of social justice and distinguished by healthy environments, strong local economies and thriving cultures.
The School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation at the University of Maryland is home to four academic disciplines: architecture, urban planning, historic preservation and real estate development. Committed to educating its students and community about the importance of sustainability and smart growth, the School practices an interdisciplinary approach to education, research, creative work, and community and professional service. For more information, please e-mail us or call 301.405.8000.
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