Brian Cole of Building Communities Dispels Myths on Regional Sustainability Planning at Washington DC Conference

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Regional sustainability planner and economic development expert Brian Cole spoke to a national gathering of professionals and volunteers conducting regional sustainability planning at an event in Washington DC in October.

Regional sustainability planning is equally important to rural communities as it is to urban and suburban communities. This planning approach just needs to be calibrated to the needs, capacities, and opportunities that rural communities have

Cities, counties, and regions that are seeking long-term solutions that balance job creation with transportation efficiency and housing solutions are conducting regional sustainability planning in 45 regions across America. Economic development expert Brian Cole spoke to a national audience in Washington DC about how communities—especially rural areas—need to dispel negative myths about regional sustainability planning designed to stop further such efforts.

Brian Cole, President of Building Communities, a community and economic development strategic planning company, has broadened his approach to rural economic development strategic planning in 2011 to encompass the Livability Principles—six measures that help communities take a long-term look at land use planning. The broader approach allows rural regions to conduct regional sustainability planning in a manner that makes sense for rural America.

Brian Cole’s approach introduces 11 very specific and “doable” rural initiatives including: 1) new or expanded transit services interconnecting rural communities, 2) affordable housing development strategically situated to benefit rural communities, 3) targeted mixed-use development projects combining housing, services, and work opportunities, 4) proactive zoning to facilitate growth, 5) health and fitness walking path systems/promotional campaigns urging pedestrian and bicycle transportation activity, 6) sustainable local foods initiatives and farmers markets, 7) forest stewardship initiatives, 8) energy conservation activities , 9) establishment of arts and crafts coops, 10) green jobs initiatives, and 11) strategic use of treated wastewater.

“Regional sustainability planning is equally important to rural communities as it is to urban and suburban communities,” says Brian Cole. “This planning approach just needs to be calibrated to the needs, capacities, and opportunities that rural communities have.”

Regional sustainability planning has come under attack from people that are concerned that it is rooted in even broader objectives to formulate policies that diminish private property rights and advance international environmental policies that may impact natural resource management decisions.

“I am aware of these concerns, but the fact is that these worries have nothing to do with the actual planning that is being done,” says Brian Cole. “Rural regional sustainability planning is really focused upon creating rural jobs so that people can sustain their way of life. Once we have this as the basis for moving forward, communities consider the 11 rural sustainability initiatives and only move forward with the initiatives that make sense for them. Rural communities take charge of their own future.”

Brian Cole’s Building Communities approach is far more objective than traditional strategic planning, as it introduces 25 economic development strategies in addition to Sustainability-Focused Development as the centerpiece for how communities can take charge of their future. Communities only select strategies that they can succeed with based upon certain key success factors. Brian Cole has also developed a list of key success factors for each of the 11 sustainability initiatives.

“This country needs to stop its needless arguing, and roll up its sleeves and get to work focused upon solutions,” says Cole. “Regional sustainability planning is one of the top programs around to get America moving again.”

About Building Communities: Building Communities is an economic development strategic planning company assisting communities throughout the United States to envision and enact their future through unique, proprietary methods and software that expedites the ability of communities to select strategies that they can succeed with to create jobs and improve their overall quality of life. President, Author, and community and economic development expert Brian Cole, brings 25 years of experience in planning and implementing successful projects, initiatives, and strategies. Find out more at the Building Communities website or read the blog.

About Brian Cole: Brian Cole has 25 years of experience in planning and implementing economic development projects, initiatives, and strategies as a local and state official, county commissioner, and as a private sector consultant and author. More on Brian can be found at http://www.buildingcommunities.us/brian-cole-economic-development-expert.html.

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