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EPA Offers Smart Growth Assistance to Rhode Island; Mississippi County, Arkansas; Kelso, Washington

Release Date: 06/13/2013
Contact Information: Stacy Kika (News Media Only), kika.stacy@epa.gov, 202-564-0906, 202-564-4355 / Dale Kemery (News Media Only), Kemery.dale@epa.gov, 202-564-7839, 202-564-4355

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has announced that it will offer technical assistance to three areas of the country to help improve their economy and create jobs while protecting health and the environment through the use of smart growth strategies.

Many communities want to foster economic growth, protect environmental resources, enhance public health, and plan for development, but may lack the tools, resources, and information to achieve their goals. In response to this demand, EPA developed the Smart Growth Implementation Assistance (SGIA) Program that can help these communities achieve those goals. The following applicants will receive technical assistance in 2013:

- State of Rhode Island ─ EPA will help the state assess impacts from climate change on economic activity in North Kingstown and prioritize actions in the state’s economic development plans. The agency aims to help North Kingstown and other Rhode Island communities prepare for rising sea levels and reduce the potential impact of climate change on major public infrastructure, private sector investments, and other key economic assets.

- Mississippi County, Ark. ─ EPA will help Mississippi County capitalize on the potential redevelopment opportunities related to new steel manufacturing jobs coming to the region. The project will identify neighborhoods that are best suited for expanding housing opportunities and minimizing commuting time to new jobs. The planning effort may also focus on updates to existing infrastructure, reuse of existing buildings, and development of new public spaces for existing residents and new employees moving to the region.

- Kelso, Wash. ─ EPA will work with the Cowlitz-Wahkiakum Council of Governments to identify infrastructure, workforce training, and other economic development strategies for encouraging redevelopment in a neighborhood and industrial area south of downtown Kelso, and to create guidelines for public investments that will improve health and equity for residents.

“The Smart Growth Implementation Assistance program helps communities pursue development that can foster new economic opportunity, and protect public health and the environment,” said EPA Director for the Office of Sustainable Communities John W. Frece. “By working hand-in-hand with communities, we create tailored strategies that meet local needs while also providing models that can benefit many other communities around the country.”

EPA selected the three recipients from a pool of 79 applicants. The finalists were selected based on how well the projects fit with current program priorities, including: redevelopment for job creation, workforce housing and sustainable neighborhood design, community resilience, the strength of the local partners, and the ability to support existing local policy implementation processes, among other factors. The projects are coordinated through the Partnership for Sustainable Communities, a joint effort of EPA, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT). This interagency partnership coordinates federal investments in infrastructure, facilities, and services to get better results for communities and use tax dollars more efficiently.

To date, the Partnership has worked to coordinate over $4 billion dollars in federal investments across the three agencies. The Partnership is helping communities across the country create more housing choices, make transportation more efficient and reliable, reinforce existing investments and support vibrant neighborhoods that attract new business.

EPA will use lessons learned from this year’s Smart Growth Implementation Assistance projects to develop tools for other communities facing similar challenges. Since 2005, EPA has supported 36 Smart Growth Implementation Assistance projects serving 49 communities.

More information about the Smart Growth Implementation Assistance Program and the selected communities: http://www.epa.gov/smartgrowth/sgia_communities.htm#content