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Knoxville Regional
Transportation Planning Organization

400 Main St, Suite 403
Knoxville, TN 37902

email: contact@planeasttn.org
phone: (865) 215-2500
fax: (865) 215-2068

Daily Times: PlanET Holds Promise to Improve Livability

Posted 08/10/2011

“Scientia potentia.” Translation: Knowledge is power.  Sounds like tech-talk by professional planners — and it is. But it makes sense. Want to move ahead? First, make sure you know where you are.

That’s why we have positive expectations for PlanET, a collaborative process to support metropolitan and multi-jurisdictional planning efforts that integrate housing, land use, economic and workforce development, transportation and infrastructure investments.

Sounds like tech-talk by professional planners — and it is. But it makes sense. Want to move ahead? First, make sure you know where you are. PlanET is a five-county regional planning effort focused on creating a vision intended to help make East Tennessee become a more vibrant, economically attractive and livable community. The Knoxville-based Metropolitan Planning Commission has completed the first edition of the PlanET State of the Region report. The report is a look at the economic, environmental, and physical health of five counties — Anderson, Blount, Knox, Loudon and Union, with Knoxville acting as the lead agency in the project.

The process got a jump-start in the fall of 2010 when the city of Knoxville asked MPC to prepare a grant application to the U.S. Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Sustainable Communities Planning Grant Program. The result was $4.3 million award, among the largest in the country. A cooperative agreement with HUD was signed Feb. 1, 2011, as the starting point for this three-year effort. The consortium of partners are meeting to help identify all of the potential stakeholders in the region. All of the mayors of cities and counties within the planning area are invited to play a role in the planning process.

Major findings from the state of the region report:

  • Almost 90 percent of the region’s households spend more than 45 percent of income on housing and transportation combined;
  • Public transportation accounts for only 0.3 percent of commuter trips in the region compared to 5 percent nationwide.
  • 15 percent of the region’s population lives in poverty;
  • The top 10 employers in the region are in government and health care industries;
  • Anderson, Blount, Knox and Loudon counties register some of the highest numbers of days for harmful levels of particle pollution and ozone among all counties in the state;
  • Diabetes, heart disease, and childhood obesity are prevalent health concerns across the region.

PlanET promises to deliver knowledge. Its success will be determined how the people of this region turn that knowledge into power to forge a better future.

Originally published by The Daily Times on July 31, 2011

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