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Smart Growth in Small Towns and Rural Communities


Small towns and rural communities throughout the United States are looking for ways to strengthen their economies, provide better quality of life, and build on local assets. Many rural communities and small towns are facing challenges, including rapid growth at metropolitan edges, declining rural populations, and loss of farms and working lands. Slow-growing and shrinking rural areas might find that their policies are not bringing the prosperity they seek, while fast-growing rural areas at the edge of metropolitan regions face metropolitan-style development pressures.

Smart growth strategies can help rural communities achieve their goals for growth and development while maintaining their distinctive rural character. Planning where development should or should not go can help a rural community encourage growth in town, where businesses can thrive on a walkable main street and families can live close to their daily destinations. Policies that protect the rural landscape help preserve open space, protect air and water quality, provide places for recreation, and create tourist attractions that bring investments into the local economy. Policies that support walking, biking, and public transit help reduce air pollution from vehicles while saving people money.

Please see the Webinars page for past webinars on rural topics.

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EPA Resources

General Resources

Technical Assistance Reports

EPA has worked with several small towns and rural places to help them achieve their development goals. These reports might be helpful to other communities facing similar issues.

National Award for Smart Growth Achievement Winners

Regional Resources

Tribal Resources

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Other Resources

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