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Middle Tennessee Regional Initiatives
Successful regional visioning, planning, and implementation requires collaborative efforts and actions among key public and private sector organizations and leaders. This collaborative leadership approach is essential for regional planning efforts to move through the necessary stages to bring focus and action to implementation efforts that support shared regional goals and outcomes. Current HUD Regional Planning Grant–funded regional projects across the country are moving through this process. The Cumberland Region Tomorrow (CRT) Middle Tennessee Region began a collaborative leadership, regional visioning, comprehensive planning, and regional implementation process in the early 2000s. Today these efforts are producing positive growth and development implementation results.
Collaborative Leadership Model
CRT’s role in the 10-county region of Middle Tennessee consisting of Cheatham, Davidson, Dickson, Maury, Montgomery, Sumner, Robertson, Rutherford, Williamson, and Wilson counties is to encourage growth planning and implementation with a focus on livability, sustainability, and economic vitality by bringing people and organizations together to communicate, collaborate, and take action on six key issues of regional importance of Middle Tennessee’s future growth and development:
- Economic Competitiveness
- Land Use/Quality Growth
- Open Space Conservation
- Air/Water Quantity/Quality
Since 2000, CRT has worked to advance regional and local planning and implementation efforts by improving the framework from which growth and development decisions and actions occur. This work has included the creation of a successful collaborative leadership model that undergirds and guides all of CRT’s work efforts, including completion of a nationally recognized regional visioning project that produced the 2003 Report to the Region, development of Tennessee’s first Quality Growth Toolbox education, implementation, and outreach resources tailored to regional consensus and needs and facilitation of annual POWER OF TEN Regional Summits that identify and drive action toward regional issues and opportunities. CRT is currently working on the creation and coordination of the Tennessee Regions’ Roundtable Network that is bringing together the West, Southwest, Middle, Southeast, and East Tennessee Regions, a new State and Federal Advisory Committee, and aligned Affiliate Organizations and Funders to expand CRT’s Quality Growth resources and collaborative leadership model across Tennessee.
CRT’s successful collaborative leadership model and approach has involved thousands of regional leaders and citizens and strategically engaged and aligned organizations, experts, and resources in each stage of the organization’s work, which has now matured to function at the local, regional, state, and national levels. The effective use of CRT’s collaborative leadership approach and the relationships this model creates through its regional board structure and network of government, private sector, and non-governmental partner organizations is the basis of all CRT’s efforts and is critical to their implementation successes. A robust and recognized regional communications platform and outreach program have also been carefully developed and implemented by CRT including Web sites, e-newsletters, and publications for three brands managed in-house: Cumberland Region Tomorrow, the POWER OF TEN Regional Summit, and the Tennessee Regions’ Roundtable Network. This outreach and communications work has greatly helped to advance the acceptance of visioning, planning, design, and implementation in the CRT Region.
CRT serves as a trusted resource and facilitator for regional collaborative action, quality growth implementation, and outreach and communications at the local, regional, state, and national levels. CRT has a successful track record of working with local, regional, state, and national leaders and organizations in implementing impactful programming, such as: The Regional Visioning Project Report to the Region, the Quality Growth Toolbox, GIS Greenprint for Quality Growth, annual POWER OF TEN Regional Summits, and the new Tennessee Regions’ Roundtable Network. These initiatives have been key in accomplishing Middle Tennessee’s and the state’s shared goals of economic competitiveness and job opportunities, quality community development with choices, and wise use of fiscal resources.
Quality Growth Toolbox
Cumberland Region Tomorrow (CRT) created the Quality Growth Toolbox in 2006 to promote the adoption of innovative professional practices in community development, comprehensive planning, community reinvestment and design, strategic open space conservation, integrated land use and transportation planning, and targeted infrastructure investing. Funded by CRT, the Tennessee Department of Transportation, the Tennessee Department of Agriculture, the Middle Tennessee State University Center for Historic Preservation, and Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, the development of Tennessee’s first Quality Growth Toolbox has created the platform for education, technical assistance, implementation, and outreach that builds on Middle Tennessee’s regional consensus and needs. The CRT Quality Growth Toolbox has been a key element in the overall regional strategy and the major component of each of these actions.
In developing the Quality Growth Toolbox, CRT created a coalition of 150 leaders and organizations, researched best practices for growth management from all over the United States, and compiled them into a comprehensive set of guiding principles, strategies, tools, and resources for local governments to learn and apply. These are presented in the Quality Growth Toolbox in seven chapters.
In each of these interrelated chapters, the CRT Quality Growth Toolbox stresses that choosing to promote Quality Growth through comprehensive planning, community design, and implementation is the region’s best pathway to economic competitiveness. The Quality Growth Toolbox also illustrates how these actions will result in increased community and regional livability, sustainability, and ensures the wise use of fiscal and land resources.
The CRT Quality Growth Toolbox is establishing a new standard of practice that exceeds state requirements and leverages resources and expertise through collaborative leadership approaches. CRT’s efforts have achieved positive results in updated growth and development plans and strategies in eight of 10 counties in the region that are supporting local and regional implementation.
In 2013, the CRT Quality Growth Toolbox was recognized by the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation with the Governor’s Award for Environmental Stewardship in the category of Education and Outreach. TDEC officials described the project as “an exemplary model of innovation, leadership, cooperation, and commitment with proven and far-reaching results that have and will continue to positively impact Tennessee’s environment and economy for generations to come.”