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Local Government Population Planning 2023: Managing Population Growth or Decline

By GovPilot

A cultural shift during and after the pandemic has resulted in many Americans relocating to a new community. As a result, states like Florida and Texas are seeing an influx of new citizens while states like California are seeing the first population decline in state history.  

The success of your local government, your local economy, and regional competitiveness is directly correlated to the total population in your community and their satisfaction. Among local governments, the pressure is on to win over new citizens while keeping existing residents happy. 

In this article, we’ll explore how local governments can pivot to accommodate rapid population growth, as well as how to proceed if your community is seeing a population decline. Here’s everything you need to know. 

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Why Are So Many Americans Moving? 

The two key reasons for the rapid increase in American mobility are rising costs of living as well as a rise in remote work. 

People may be leaving your area if rent, taxes, etc. are overly expensive and job opportunities are limited. People could be moving into your neighborhood if it is affordable and/or offers great amenities.

What to Do as a Local Government if Your Neighborhood is Experiencing Population Growth? 

If your local government has managed to craft an environment that is appealing to newcomers, give yourself a pat on the back. Secondary, tertiary, suburban, and rural areas are becoming increasingly appealing to people that are tired of expensive prices in bigger metropolitan areas. 

Consider our Guide For Newly Elected Government Officials to learn more. 

If you’re experiencing rapid population growth, consider the following maneuvers to manage the increasing population and continue to encourage movers to choose your locality:

Consider local zoning policies: 

Population growth means your community will need an increase in residential and commercial properties. Municipal planners should relax traditional zoning policies built around single family rentals for larger residential and commercial properties that can accommodate more people. 

Learn more about Mastering Municipal Planning to Reclaim the Streets.

Improve walkability (or prepare for a lot of extra cars.)

If your community isn’t navigable by foot or bike, your local government will need to prepare for an increasingly larger number of vehicles on the road. Consider bike lanes and pedestrian zones to make a car a non-necessity. Use strategic urban planning to put local businesses within walking distance of residential areas. 

Electric bikes are growing increasingly popular. Consider Local Government Regulations & Considerations for E-Bikes to encourage usage of this great mode of transportation in a safe manner. 

The concept of the 15-minute city has gained popularity as a way to create a healthier, more social community which enables increased business activity by making storefronts more accessible to pedestrians. Street reclamation initiatives are the urban planning process of turning roads previously designated for usage by vehicles into pedestrian-centric walkways and communal areas. These initiatives flourished during the COVID-19 pandemic as streets were closed to pedestrian traffic and businesses such as restaurants. Such initiatives made permanent or semi-permanent can have a positive impact on constituent satisfaction, happiness, health, and economic viability.

Offer online forms for business registration, permitting, & more: 

As more business owners and citizens move into the community, you can expect an influx of business registration, home remodeling projects, pet licenses, and more. Have these types of forms readily accessible from your government website to save everyone involved time and encourage new constituents to get their paperwork submitted.

Improve on local infrastructure: 

With a rising population and increased tax revenue, your local government can use your larger budget to take action to ensure your local infrastructure is modernized. Local public transportation will need to accommodate a larger population. 

Use government software to automate mindless tasks like sending requests for proposal (RFPs) to relevant contractors and permitting workflows to expedite the construction process. 

Prioritize high-quality broadband internet: 

Many of those choosing to move to smaller metro areas are doing so because they can keep their high paying jobs while still working remotely. In order to capitalize on this niche, your local government will need to take action to provide high-speed Internet across the community. Luckily, federal bills like the US infrastructure bill and others allow local governments to request funding for broadband internet and cybersecurity.

Learn more about the Benefits of Local Governments Embracing Broadband Infrastructure

Consider the perspectives of existing and new citizens: 

Your newest citizens may or may not have similar views to the people that have been living in your area for years. Encourage all of your citizens to attend local public meetings and to communicate with your staff via your citizen engagement platform to make sure your policy priorities are in tune with all of your constituents. Take suggestions and requests from the most vulnerable members of your community which might include senior citizens, veterans, and community-members with disabilities

What to Do as a Local Government if Your Neighborhood is Experiencing Population Decline?

Whether you’re in a rural area with limited work options or an urban or suburban community in a state with income inequality, you’ve got a unique set of challenges when it comes to managing population loss by keeping existing citizens in your neighborhood around and making changes to encourage people to move. 

Here are some population planning considerations for managing (and limiting) population loss:

Prioritize improved Internet speeds

If you're in a rural area, chances are your Internet speeds are slow. As the world continues to embrace digital infrastructure, businesses offering both in-person and remote work structures require high speed Internet to function. Your community can win over businesses and remote workers alike by ramping up your broadband infrastructure (which you can do using Federal cybersecurity grants and broadband grants like the BEAD program.)

Host online real estate auctions

If your local government is in possession of vacant properties, hosting online real estate auctions is a great way to not only encourage people to buy property and move into your community, but also to generate serious revenue for your local government. 

Trenton, NJ used GovPilot’s online real estate auction platform to generate $4.15 million for the city in one day, and required purchasers to live in or operate a business in their new property for at least 5 years to encourage population and economic growth. 

Communicate with your remaining citizens

Typically, people choose to move elsewhere when work opportunities are limited or there are dislikeable aspects of your community. To prevent more citizens from leaving, encourage citizens to speak up at local public meetings and complaint management software to voice their frustrations about your community. Doing so will allow your local government to make informed decisions and allocate funds towards the issues your citizens deem the most pertinent. 

Learn more about How Governments Can Use Complaint Management Software?

Improve on facilities and public services

Your citizens are frustrated if your local government facilities are antiquated and public services are functioning poorly. Slow-moving public works, poor sanitation and water utilities strategies,  etc. can be increasingly frustrating for Americans wondering where their tax dollars are going.

Using government technology can organize workflows across government departments. The economic development and public works departments can prioritize improvements to public facilities and services with automated scheduling via online work orders. These online work orders will not only designate the task to the relevant government official, but will also add a timestamp to ensure government workers are held accountable if they’re letting tasks slip through the crack. 

Encourage business registration with straightforward government processes

Savvy business people give serious consideration to the local government’s reputation before they choose to set up shop in a locality. Corruption, slow-moving permitting processes, high taxes, and low-quality infrastructure like roads will all result in businesses choosing another community over yours. 

Using government technology to automate government tasks and hold municipal workers accountable won’t go unnoticed by business owners considering setting up in your neighborhood. And once the word gets out that your local government is business friendly, increased economic development should continue.

Learn more about How Municipalities Can Encourage Local Economic Development?

Prioritize safe street initiatives

Crime was considered one of the top voter issues in the 2022 midterms. Americans are concerned for their safety, especially with an uptick in crime nationally during the pandemic and as economic inequality continues to rise.

Law enforcement technology can make it easier to respond to emergencies with an intuitive GIS map highlighting the exact property or geographic area the issue is occurring. Online crime report filing stores all legal paperwork in the cloud and lets law and code enforcement officials digitally pull up existing criminal reports for a property or individual. Court software will automate and expedite the judicial process to hold criminals accountable in a timely fashion. 

With better enforcement tactics, criminality will be discouraged and your law abiding citizens will feel an added sense of security. 

How Does Government Technology Help With Population Planning?

Local government software makes your government workflows quicker and easier for everyone involved. Digitizing services like permitting, licensing, inspections, and scheduling allows you to offer citizen services straight from your government website and get applications approved quickly. Public complaint software allows citizens to message your government with insightful commentary about the issues that matter most in your community. Property records can be updated to reflect vacancies (or a lack there-of) in an intuitive GIS map. 

Data related to all of these aspects of governance can be pulled into intuitive dashboards, allowing you to gauge whether your population is growing or declining, which issues matter to existing / new citizens, and more.

Mastering Government Population Planning

Your local government will need to plan accordingly if you’re experiencing a decline or growth in your neighborhood. Regardless of your population status, you’ll need to consider the appropriate infrastructure to appeal to a larger population. Make your community walkable, repair old roads and bridges, modernize the Internet infrastructure, and streamline your government workflows for more efficiency for government workers, private businesses, and your citizens. 

To learn more about how GovPilot’s operating system for local governments can help your government take action, book a free demo.

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Government Management of Population FAQs 

What is Local Government Population Planning?

Population planning is the consideration and strategizing local governments take towards managing a shift in their population. In order to accommodate new citizens and keep existing ones) local governments need to consider:

    • Infrastructure + Municipal Planning: commercial and residential buildings, local facilities, roads, bridges, public transit, broadband, government cloud software, pedestrian zones, bike lanes, etc.
    • Economic opportunity: how to encourage new businesses to come and existing businesses to stay. You can seriously improve private-public sector relationships with quick moving, digital workflows for processes like permitting, health inspections, etc.

    • Safety: crime has increased and coverage of the issue has grown rapidly. Americans are concerned about safety and are willing to move somewhere else if they feel their family is unsafe. 
    • Constituent Experience and Convenience: local governments are often known for being slow-moving and disorganized. If your local government has poor citizen services as a result of inefficient paper based processes and antiquated workflows, your tax-paying constituents are going to notice and become increasingly frustrated. Local quality of life and constituent satisfaction will increase substantially when you make a government digital transformation and automate scheduling, applications, inspections, and other tedious workflows.

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Tags: Government Efficiency, Constituent Experience, Digital Transformation, Blog, Civic Engagement