New Guide Discusses Better Connecting Transit, Jobs and Workforce Development In Denver Region
Reconnecting America and its partners in Mile High Connects today released "A Station Area Typology of Economic Opportunity: A Guide to Better Connecting Transit, Jobs and Workforce Development in the Denver Region." The report provides an overview of the benefits to employers and workforce training providers of locating near transit and identifies the barriers that often prevent them from choosing a transit-oriented location. The report also includes a typology tool for determining the best locations to attract, retain and grow businesses in transit-oriented locations, using Denver's East and West Lines as case studies.
The guidebook includes a review of literature on the economic benefits of connecting jobs and transit, drawing from academic research, applied research from think tanks and advocacy groups and case studies from several regions that have programs in place to promote businesses near transit. The review also addresses the gaps in the research and recommends tools and strategies for overcoming the barriers to locating near transit, including:
- Engaging economic and workforce development agencies in land-use and transportation planning processes.
- Assessing economic strengths at each transit station.
- Developing a strategy to attract, retain and grow businesses with middle-skill jobs.
- Developing a strategy to promote work-supportive services like training and childcare.
- Promoting last mile connections.
- Incorporating economic development into station area and neighborhood plans.
The typology classifies transit stations on Denver's East and West Lines based on the economic opportunities available, including the presence of middle-skill jobs, education and training facilities and work-supportive businesses such as childcare and affordable housing. It is meant to be a guide for local governments and other decisionmakers to help identify places to focus resources in that provide the most economic opportunity. The typology was created with input from members of the Mile High Connects Jobs Working Group, which includes local planners, economic development officials and workforce development professionals from the Denver region. In many neighborhoods, only small-scale investments in infrastructure, catalytic development, or civic improvements are needed to greatly increase the employment-oriented TOD potential and capture the many associated benefits. In others, more large-scale investments, community support and employer buy-in will be necessary to unleash the station area's economic potential.
"Most of the emphasis to date on TOD has been around residential development, but economic and workforce development are just as important to incorporate into transit-oriented communities," Reconnecting America Program Associate Bill Sadler, the report's primary author, said. "People who can take transit to work often spend less on transportation costs, saving them money to spend on other things. Employers also benefit by locating near transit in a variety of ways, from gaining access to a larger labor pool, saving money on things like parking and health care and greater convenience to clients and customers."
This report was created with support from Living Cities and the Ford Foundation.