Regional Planning can bolster Smart Growth efforts

By Maria Walliser-Wejebe, GOPC Project Associate

Scenario planning has the capability to better inform public officials and development authorities of the costs associated with different development models. Additionally, the technical assistance provided by a regional MPO can help smaller communities integrate individual growth plans with regional opportunities. Below are examples of regional planning in Ohio providing collaborative and forward thinking models for regional development planning bolstered by data-driven inquiry and neighborly support.


Insight2050 - Central Ohio

Insight2050 is an innovative cross-sector partnership created to help Central Ohio communities prepare for and respond to changing development and mobility needs driven by the region’s growth and demographic changes occurring over the next 30 years. Led by the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission (MORPC), together with the Columbus District Council of the Urban Land Institute and Columbus 2020, insight2050 examines demographic trends, population trajectories, development patterns, and other data to project how the decisions we make today will shape what Central Ohio might be like in 2050 through several scenarios showing the impacts of an additional 500,000 or more people in the region over the next 30+ years. The uniquely comprehensive study modeled various development patterns, ranging from past trends to current plans, to a future more focused on infill and redevelopment. More information can be found at

Vibrant NEO - Northeast Ohio

Vibrant NEO 2040 provides a regional visioning and decision-making framework for sustainable communities. This not for profit initiative was founded on the idea that a shared regional vision for the future, developed through a robust community and stakeholder engagement process, will lead to a healthier, more economically and socially equitable future for the region. The framework is an unprecedented collaboration of 12 counties, and communities throughout the region are implementing its recommendations to create a financially and environmentally sustainable Northeast Ohio. The four themes, nine recommendations, and 41 specific objectives of Vibrant NEO are designed to be valuable and implementable for the biggest urban centers, smallest rural townships, and everywhere in between. In 2015, the American Planning Association awarded Vibrant NEO the prestigious Daniel Burnham Award, the profession’s highest honor. More information can be found at the Vibrant NEO website:

To help communities develop new plans and policies to prepare for growth and change, insight2050 and Vibrant NEO 2040 partners provide many different resources, from a website to a monthly newsletter. MORPC holds a twice-yearly insight2050 Academy series, and a Technical Assistance Program to help communities in their region adopt and integrate regional goals into local comprehensive plans and policies. High-capacity planning organizations have the capabilities to craft data-driven plans to respond to forecasted demographic and economic changes inclusive of communities within a multi-county region.