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Regional Visioning and Initiatives Implementation

Bridget Jones is a nationally recognized leader who led the successful implementation cycle of the Cumberland Region Tomorrow Middle Tennessee Regional Visioning project and demonstrated her expertise in one on the nation’s first successful projects of this kind. 

As CRT’s second Executive Director, she took the nationally recognized Regional Visioning project results and authored the CRT Report to the Region publication that outlined strategies Regional Visioning Implementation actions.  In this report, regional growth scenarios illustrated in BASE and ALTERNATIVE CASE maps supported by twenty year comparison growth and development statistics provided the basis of all regional education and outreach to illustrate choices and possible actions toward a shared, desired future.  As an implementation action, Jones researched, organized and funded the CRT Quality Growth Toolbox Project that engaged 150 regional and state leaders to create training and technical assistance resources that would be used to update land use, transportation, and infrastructure decision-making frameworks across the ten county CRT region.  County and city level projects provided the first opportunity for Jones to deploy collaborative leadership methods and strategies at  CRT.

This Quality Growth focus and work was necessary in implementing the regional vision strategies because most local land use and transportation plans were adopted in the early 1970’s and were producing the dispersed development patterns that the region had seen during the last three decades.  Simply put, the land use decision making framework in local governments across the region were  set for sprawl, that was causing most of the region’s land use, transportation, government services and infrastructure costs and undesired outcomes. 

Jones pulled together key state agency leaders from the Tennessee Departments of Transportation, Economic and Community Development, Wildlife Resources, Agriculture and Tourism into a State Advisory Committee and worked with them to identify funding for CRT to work in pilot communities to put the Quality Growth to use. She also created new training and technical assistance resources and community outreach materials and “community-based” project leadership methods during this period. 

As successful local Quality Growth projects and new Comprehensive Growth and Development plans were completed in eight of our ten counties since 2007, the Middle Tennessee CRT region has embraced new standards in comprehensive planning and community design as the basis for effective community and economic development and wise infrastructure and fiscal investments.  As this occurred our region’s public and private sector leaders ideas “tipped” toward these local implementation actions. 

By 2010, TDOT and the Nashville and Clarksville MPO’s transportation leaders developed progressive Multimodal Transportation plans and policies that provided important implementation funding for local plans and projects.  Several Tennessee state government departments were also progressively aligning their programs and funding to support Quality Growth outcomes. For example the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development’s Tennessee Main Street and Downtowns programs expanded to support successful downtown revitalization projects and funding that are the cornerstone for Quality Growth outcomes.  Alignment of  state agency programs, policies and funding that support successful local and regional implementation is key to any regional visioning project’s implementation success.

 Jones secured Rockefeller grant funding to lead an effective Tennessee Multimodal Transportation outreach and messaging project with a coalition of key partners to support TDOT policy and funding leadership actions.  Jones also created a Middle Tennessee regional communications systems including new websites and weekly e-newsletters publicizing Best Practice Case Studies showcasing successful projects, leadership and funding to recognize success and freeze changed behaviors.  All of these actions have been key to Middle Tennessee’s successful implementation under Jones leadership of CRT. 

Stay tuned for future writing on What I Have Learned from Leading Successful Regional implementation early in the Spring of 2016.