Economist: Going green pays dividends
This afternoon at the Hyatt Regency in downtown Tampa, economist Joseph Cortright of Portland, Oregon, spoke about the economic benefits the residents of his city have seen because of land-use decisions and mass transit.
Creative Tampa Bay, Tampa Downtown Partnership and CEOs for Cities hosted the lunchtime lecture for more than 200 residents of Tampa Bay.
Cortright said that contrary to what some say, it is possible to have economic benefits when a city makes environmentally wise decisions, what he calls a "green dividend."
Cortright emphasized that Portland has made multiple transportation options available to its citizens and has made wise land-use decisions.
Because of these green decisions, Portland area residents have reaped economic benefits in their transportation and housing choices. Portland residents drive about four miles per day less than residents of the average American city, resulting in a huge boost to the local economy.
In addition to those direct economic benefits, Cortright said that time saved during commuting saves Portland residents an additional $1.5 billion every year. The 3.4 million residents of the Tampa Bay region drive an average of 3.6 miles more per day than residents of the average American city.
Cortright said Tampa Bay residents would save billions every year if land use and transportation policies were implemented that resulted in reducing commutes.
During the question segment, Hillsborough County Commissioner Jim Norman reminded Cortright that his equation only included the benefits of mass transit, not the costs. But Cortright responded that the total cost of Portlandâ€™s transit system is about as much as his cityâ€™s residents will save every single year from reduced transit times.
Tampa City Council Member John Dingfelder thinks that the Tampa Bay area could financially benefit from having regional mass transit solutions.
But while regional cooperation seems to have worked in Portland, Dingfelder was concerned about whether all of the city and county governments of the Tampa Bay region could put aside their differences and work together for regional transportation solutions.
TBARTA is the recently formed Tampa Bay Area Regional Transportation Authority. Phil Compton is conservation organizer for the Florida Field Office of the Sierra Club. He said a regional approach to development and transit would benefit the Tampa Bay economy and environment.
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