2013 Highlights

Approximately 1,150 smart growth thought leaders from across the U.S. — and other countries — came together for the 12th Annual New Partners for Smart Growth Conference, held February 7-9, 2013, in Kansas City, MO. This premier smart growth event organized and hosted by the Local Government Commission focuses on helping communities build safe, healthy, equitable and prosperous communities. The conference featured nearly 100 sessions that provided insight about some of the newest, most forward thinking smart growth topics. Highlights from the 2013 New Partners for Smart Growth Conference include:

I have been to almost every LGC conference since the mid 90’s. This is where I go to get all the information I need to go back to my city and make it a better place. I look forward to it every year.

– Councilmember Tom Butt, City of Richmond, CA

highlight_1The “Arrival of the 21st Century American City” kick-off plenary featured Mayor Sly James of Kansas City, MO, Mayor Joe Reardon of Kansas City, KS, and Mayor Mark Mallory of Cincinnati, OH who shared their bold visions and efforts to make each of their cities a 21st Century American City.


“Everybody knows about our legendary jazz, blues and barbecue, but Kansas City has also been innovative in its efforts to implement smart growth and green initiatives that promote environmental quality, social equity and economic vitality. We’re delighted to welcome the rest of the nation to see our region’s commitment to sustainable solutions and vibrant, walkable communities.”

– Mayor James, Kansas City, MO



This year, New Partners took the parklets indoors! Conference participants loved networking, working and relaxing at the SIX parklets created within the Kansas City Convention Center. The American Society of Landscape Architects coordinated this effort, with several local, regional and national organizations, agencies and firms participating as sponsors.


“It’s exciting to see a growing number of communities rethinking how to use public space. One of the great benefits of parklets is how easily they can be installed or modified with little capital expense to meet community needs.”

– Dena Kennett, Manager of Professional Practice, American Society of Landscape Architects.


The always-popular Equitable Development Workshop explored how low-income, minority, tribal and other overburdened communities are integrating land use and economic development strategies to renew their neighborhoods and build residents’ skills and wealth. Nearly 270 participants attended the workshop, and left reinvigorated to promote equitable development in their own communities.



Mind Mixer“Envision Your Sustainable Community,” the conference’s new engagement website sponsored by MindMixer, provides conference participants and other interested individuals an opportunity to guide the goals of the annual conference series and share their success stories of overcoming challenges, implementing smart growth practices and creating more sustainable, equitable and prosperous communities. Share your favorite conference photos and the most exciting things you learned at the conference by visiting: www.EnvisionSustainableCommunities.com!

“We really believe in the cause of smart growth and we’re excited to be providing an online platform to talk about this conference, talk about their own communities and come up with the best ideas to move this country forward.”

– Stephen Hardy, Chief Community Builder, MindMixer



Thailand Delegation — 12 people from Thailand attended the New Partners conference, representing various sectors, including local and regional governments, a consultant, and a fellow at MIT. As part of a nonprofit, Smart Growth Thailand, the delegates attended the conference to observe and learn about the latest smart growth issues and approaches – many of them for the first time!


The “Why Leave it to the Liberals? Conservative Views on Smart Growth” plenary featured Michael Lewyn, Associate Professor with the Tuoro Law Center and James Bacon, Author/Founder of Bacon’s Rebellion who explained why smart growth is too important to leave to the liberals.


“Creating great places with durable local economies is a nonpartisan issue.”

– Geoff Anderson, President, Smart Growth America


highlight_6“The Doctor Is In” was a new addition to the conference this year. During the conference, Kevin Nelson, AICP from the EPA’s Office of Sustainable Communities held “office hours” where he matched built environment ailments with prescriptions for how to build safer, healthier, more equitable and prosperous communities.

highlight_7The dynamic and timely “Smart Growth and Your Tax Dollar, Making Sense of it All” plenary featured Charles Marohn, Executive Director of Strong Towns, Joe Minicozzi, Principle of Urban3, and Mayor Ashley Swearengin from the City of Fresno discussed the fiscal impact of development patterns and the fiscal benefits of smart growth.

A street that’s rich with people and buildings creates the best value for investors. It also benefits residents by providing tax revenue for community maintenance – roads and sidewalks.

– William Fulton, Director of Policy, Smart Growth America

Conference participants loved trying out cutting edge tools for scenario planning and public engagement during the Technology Fair, sponsored by PlaceMatters. Tools included mapping and alternative analysis tools to aid planning, interactive and data rich 3-D visualization, and online tools and mobile apps to engage stakeholders typically not reached through public meetings.

“Over the past few years, an impressive set of tools has emerged to address a number of planning needs, including mapping and alternative analysis tools, interactive and data-rich 3-D visualization tools, and online tools and mobile apps for stakeholder engagement. The Technology Fair is a great opportunity to get hands-on exposure to a number of these tools used in smart planning,”

– Jason Lally, Director, PlaceMatters DecisionLab


highlight_9The Saturday luncheon keynote featured Mayor R.T. Rybak from Minneapolis, MN. A champion of successful smart-growth practices, Mayor Rybak shared his insights on the practices and planning that has led Minneapolis to a flourishing economy, alternative transportation choices, affordable housing, and better public health and safety.


highlight_10This year’s participants were plugged into social media throughout the entire event. Over 400 people tweeted about the sessions they were attending, special features, tours, and the people they were connecting with, during the event! All the conference tweets were shown in real-time on a Twitterfall in the sponsor display room.



highlight_11The closing plenary titled “Economically Sustainable Communities: Learning from the Past and Looking Toward the Future,” featured Mayor Mark Stodola from Little Rock, AR, Mayor Rick Danner from Greer, SC, and Mayor Pro Tem Ed Gonzalez from Houston, TX. Each shared how they are working to build on community assets, reinvigorate the core, and increase resiliency and quality of life in their neighborhoods and communities.

“I come to absolutely ever single New Partners for Smart Growth conference there is…What I get out of the conference is first of all, the networking…and hearing from top level speakers on things I care about a lot.”

– Dan Burden, Executive Director, Walkable and Livable Communities Institute

About New Partners

Conference Organizers

"The challenges of the 21st century will require an unprecedented level of collaboration and innovation. Working together across disciplines, we can create communities that are resilient, prosperous and equitable. The New Partners conference will connect you to diverse experts, new strategies and cutting-edge tools that will help create positive change, starting with your community."
— Kate Meis, Executive Director, Local Government Commission
Michele Kelso Warren
916-448-1198 x308
mkwarren ‘AT’ lgc ‘DOT’ org

Rachael Ryen
916-448-1198 x327
rryen ‘AT’ lgc ‘DOT’ org

About the Event

A Green Conference

Why You Should Attend