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Low Risk, High Return: A Neighborhood Approach

Full resource: Neighborhoods First: A Low Risk, High Return Strategy For A Better Brainerd.

Date published: 2013

Source: The Planner Blog

Author: A Better Brainerd

Brainerd (pop. 13,590) is a city in Crow Wing County, Minnesota, which was heavily impacted by the 2008 recession. With 42% of its budget being funded by local government aid, it found itself vulnerable to the changing priorities of law-makers. The city needed a low-risk, high-return strategy which could stabilize the city’s finances, lessen dependence on unstable fundings streams, and harness the community's existing strengths. This report is useful for self-determining communities needing strategies to improve their neighborhoods when city governments are lacking resources and capacity. It describes how close work with communities through small-scale, incremental investments can have a significant impact.

A Better Brainerd comprised 8 projects implemented at a total cost of $16,800. The projects reflect a long-term, but regularly invested, neighborhood-focused approach. For example, projects included small research studies intro parks and traffic speed, and overall needs assessment, with improvements such as building bike lanes, pedestrian crossings and corridors, tree trimming, and park and boulevard tree planting.

A Better Brainerd is an initiative of Strong Towns, a non-profit organization headquartered in Brainerd and Minneapolis, Minnesota, and a part of Operation More George and Sandbox City.

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