Local Problems, Shared Solutions: Helping Underserved Communities


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Certification Maintenance


CM | 0.75


Learning Outcomes

  • Identify opportunities for creative partnerships that meet specific community concerns with regional planning solutions.
  • Understand the potential obstacles to implementing such a partnership model and techniques for overcoming them.
  • Learn how to advocate for equitable access to high-quality planning education and resources for small and rural communities that lack the funding for full-time planning staff.

More Course Details

The Mid-America Regional Council (MARC) regions comprise 119 local governments. Many of those communities — faced with staff shortages, budget constraints, and limited expertise — struggle to meet their planning needs. These challenges are exacerbated in small and rural communities where access to equitable, thoughtful planning frequently is even further out of reach.

MARC partnered with the Institute for Building Technology and Safety (IBTS), a national nonprofit, to deliver shared solutions to MARC's member communities. This unique partnership opens access to a larger pool of technical expertise and planning services, while limiting local cost, implementation, and service management burdens. Examples include a small Kansas suburb that wanted to revise its zoning ordinance to promote missing-middle housing and a rural Missouri town considering its first residential subdivision, a development that would double the town's population.

Panelists representing MARC, IBTS, and the city of Tracy, Missouri, describe their experiences with this shared-services model and advise how to implement a similar approach elsewhere.

Most small and rural communities lack resources to fund regular professional planning services. The shared-service model is an innovative tool for regional agencies to advance inclusive and equitable community planning.