Five Best Planning and Community Development Success Stories of 2021

This past year has been nothing short of challenging for planning, housing, and economic development professionals. The pandemic has continued to create numerous consequences that impact short and long-term policies and place stress on administrators, elected officials, developers, and business leaders. Labor and supply chain issues, combined with a continuing counter-urbanization trend have created shortages of all housing types, particularly multi-family housing. This has devastated housing affordability in many neighborhoods. Simultaneously, many cities and counties are learning the lesson of having dated zoning codes, which hinder allowing the type of growth and modern expectations their citizens expect and need. Competition for employees continues to hinder small business recovery, as there appears to be no quick fix for the labor shortage.

It’s not all bad news, though. This year has seen some remarkable (and repeatable) success stories in planning and community development. At the center of these stories is the use of GIS. Location impacts nearly every facet of planning, housing, and economic development at the local, regional, and state level. Let’s take a look at five of the best of these stories from 2021. Click on the link each detailed story.

With unprecedented levels of federal funding being funneled into cities and counties, planners will have increased opportunities in 2022 to help meet the needs of all of their residents.  For more information, please find our resources at

About the author

Keith Cooke is the Director of Planning & Community Development Markets at Esri. A graduate of Auburn University, he has been a GIS professional since 1994 and has worked for planning and community development agencies at the regional and municipal level. Prior to this role, he was an account executive at Esri for 15 years working with over 100 local governments. He is a frequent speaker at GIS, community planning, and economic development events and is an active member in the American Planning Association, where he has conducted nearly 100 hands-on GIS workshops for planners since 2004 at the National Planning Conference and state chapter conferences.


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