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ECONOMIC FACTORS

Benefits of Urban Green Space

In his Economic Development Strategic Plan, Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels lists critical success factors for growth, one of which is "Place-Making," or "promoting and investing in quality of life, community amenities and civic tolerance." In his 2006 "Indiana’s Strategic Economic Development Plan," the Governor stresses the importance of place-making programs that "develop cultural, recreational and other quality of life amenities that are consistent with attracting and retaining skilled workers and their families."

Smart Growth Network reports that there are significant fiscal, environmental quality, and health benefits associated with the protection of open space.

Open space can:

  • increase local property values (thereby increasing property tax bases);
  • provide tourism dollars; and
  • reduce the need for local tax increases by reducing the need for construction of new infrastructure.

In addition, management of the quality and supply of open space:

  • prevents flood damage; and
  • provides a natural and less expensive alternative for clean drinking water.

Preservation benefits the environment by:

  • combating air pollution;
  • attenuating noise;
  • controlling the wind;
  • providing erosion control;
  • moderating temperatures; and
  • protecting surface and ground water resources by filtering trash, debris, and chemical pollutants before they enter the community’s water system.

The 2003 Nature Conservancy study of Indiana states that greenspace in urban areas in the form of parks, trees, and walking trails:

  • reduces the pressures of living in poverty;
  • fosters a sense of community;
  • contributes to a healthier environment; and
  • reduces fear, violent behavior, and reported crimes.

A survey of registered voters in Indiana found that more than 70 percent believe that natural areas are important for our quality of life, and that more needs to be done to protect land and water in Indiana for today and future generations.

To compete with other states in attracting business and improving the environmental aspects of our quality of life, businesses and governmental organizations throughout Indiana must work to:

  • protect remaining natural areas by committing resources to acquire new sties and improve existing green space;
  • promote existing environmental amenities to advertise Indiana’s great climate for business and community; and
  • preserve and improve the quality of life measures associated with a healthy environment.

The Trust for Public Land cites statistics showing that the estimated value of outdoor recreation to the American economy was $40 billion in 1996. United States parks generated about $10 billion in benefits to local communities. Local businesses gained about $401 million in revenues from visitors to national wildlife refuges in 1995.

The Trust for Public Land has estimated that the value of all economic benefits generated by a single acre of wetlands is $150,000 to $200,000. In addition, parks support more than 250,000 public sector jobs in federal, state, county, and local agencies. About $59 billion is spent every year on wildlife tourism.

The Trust for Public Land recently issued a report on the importance of parks, open space, and similar amenities to attracting economic development. Today, businesses clearly prefer communities with a high quality of life, including an abundance of open space, nearby recreation, and pedestrian-friendly neighborhoods. A survey of business and economic developers conducted by Dr. John Crompton, professor at Texas A&M University, small businesses ranked open space/parks/recreation as the number one factor in choosing a new business location. Large companies ranked quality of life as third most important among the six elements studied, and ranked recreation, parks, and open spaces fourth amongst the quality of life factors.

See Green Economics 

 

Alliance of Crown Hill Neighbors; P. O. Box 88770; Indianapolis, Ind. 46208 crownhillneighbors@hotmail.com