Responding to a growing number of requests from states for assistance in managing growth, three former governors with a long history of promoting smart growth--Christie Whitman (New Jersey--also former EPA Administrator), Parris Glendening (Maryland) and Angus King (Maine)--joined EPA and the National Endowment for the Arts in announcing a new Governors' Institute on Community Design. The Institute is intended to support governors' leadership in good community design and sound planning.
"States have always been laboratories for innovation," said Gov. Whitman. "Through the Governors' Institute we hope to inspire a new level of innovation that will make our communities economically stronger, healthier, and more attractive places to live and work."
The Institute, funded by EPA and the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) will be jointly administered by two organizations with extensive experience in helping states address development and related quality-of-life issues--the Smart Growth Leadership Institute and the National Center for Smart Growth Research and Education, both at the University of Maryland.
"Many governors want to address housing, transportation, health or other issues related to land use and development, but need the tools to do so," said Gov. Glendening. "There are many examples of successful community design. Our goal is to share those strategies with governors and their staffs."
EPA and the NEA are each providing $200,000 to launch the Institute. EPA's funding is being provided through its national water and smart growth programs. EPA's Smart Growth program encourages development that protects environmental resources and human health, expands economic opportunity, and creates and enhances places that people love.
"There is no substitute for strong, consistent and determined leadership to create great places that people will love for generations," said Gov. King. "We hope that through the Governors' Institute, we can equip state leaders with the strategies that can produce real change."
Joining the governors in today's announcement were EPA Assistant Administrator for Water Benjamin H. Grumbles and NEA Chairman Dana Gioia.
"Air and water quality, Brownfields, water infrastructure and wetlands protection are all linked to how and where we grow," said Grumbles. "Working in collaboration with states, we will enhance our understanding of the implications of growth. Thinking strategically, the participating governors will help their states' dollars go farther while protecting and preserving their environment."
The Governors' Institute builds on the NEA Mayors' Institute on City Design (MICD), which since 1986 has brought mayors and designers together to generate ideas on better city planning. The MICD has graduated more than 675 mayors, and resulted in many specific physical improvements from restored waterfronts to downtown revitalization projects. Through the Governors' Institute, the NEA hopes to inspire state leaders to capitalize on their roles as chief state "designers" to identify innovative design approaches that improve the way people live in cities, suburbs, and countryside.
"The NEA has a positive track record of encouraging stewardship in public design at the urban, rural, and now at the state level," said NEA Chairman Dana Gioia. "Through the Governors' Institute, we will offer governors key resources to help them address regional and statewide design issues."
In the coming year, the Institute will conduct up to four workshops to pair governors and their cabinets with top planning experts to identify strategies that spur smarter development -- development that serves the economy, public health and the environment. Other forms of assistance that will be available to governors include ongoing advice on technical issues and a publication listing a range of policy options to consider.