About the Event

Conference Location

Over the last 20 years, Baltimore has used a wealth of smart-growth and sustainability tools and policies to transform itself from primarily a major port and manufacturing center, into a multi-industry economy that promotes a built environment that is vibrant, walkable and livable focused on medicine, law, finance and health. These strategies ensured workers have a vibrant and interesting place to live, work and play. Major employers include Johns Hopkins University and Johns Hopkins Hospital as well as various health care, education and financial institutions surrounding the city’s Inner Harbor.

Located in the Mid-Atlantic, it’s just an overnight drive from Baltimore to half of the country’s population. Within Baltimore and the surrounding region, more than 30 universities and colleges help provide an educationally diverse and skilled knowledge-based workforce.

The Port of Baltimore is one of the busiest ports in the United States. Its strategic location, 200 miles closer to the Midwest than any other Atlantic seaboard city, coupled with direct access to interstate highway and rail service, make it a valued resource for companies today. Three major airports serve the Baltimore metropolitan region, offering outstanding access to national and international markets for business and pleasure travel and air cargo business.

Baltimore is well situated in central Maryland, with easy access to Annapolis, the state capital, and Washington, DC, 40 miles to the south. With close proximity to these attractions, there will be tons of smart-growth projects to see across the region. The Chesapeake Bay provides a laboratory of environmental initiatives and strategies to protect water quality and improve the built environment.

Cities like Columbia, Ellicott City, Catonsville and Towson will demonstrate smart growth in practice. Closer to Washington, DC, Montgomery and Prince George’s counties will showcase its recent efforts to spur transit-oriented development and create vibrant, compact communities.

Alternatively, without leaving the city, conference participants can explore a multitude of neighborhoods and historical locales. Baltimore was once the second-largest point of immigrant entry into the U.S., and its 225 neighborhoods—each with its own history and micro-economy – retain distinct personalities with newer waves of immigration and intraregional migration.

From the Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine and the Star-Spangled Banner Flag House to the Edgar Allan Poe House and Federal Hill, there is so much to explore. Each period in America’s march from a British colony to industrial powerhouse can be discovered along its Belgian-block streets, on its national historical trails and scenic byways, in its tiny row houses and mansions of the Gilded Age.

Or get to know Fell’s Point. This lively waterfront neighborhood was once one of America’s most important colonial seaports. Today, historic homes and cobblestone streets mix with rowdy nightlife and unique shops in what is the city’s densest collection of pubs, bars and restaurants.

A major seaport hub since the 1700s, Baltimore’s Inner Harbor is the center of the city’s tourism today: The National Aquarium, Maryland Science Center and numerous dining and shopping options can be found near the waterfront. For an affordable and fun way to see these sites from the water, take a water taxi, which runs year-round.

There’s more to this city than the Orioles and Maryland blue crabs. From Little Italy to American Visionary Museum, see the attractions that reveal the many sides of Charm City. The world-famous National Aquarium with more than 16,000 creatures. The many sides of Charm City’s quirky and down-to-earth personality of the Baltimore Hon (this Hairspray!) will welcome you to a state with a long and rich history of smart-growth policy and implementation.

Working Together

A significant factor in this event’s tremendous success is its appeal to so many different disciplines. The conference will draw a national audience of local elected officials and city and county staff; state and federal agency leaders; professionals in planning, transportation, public health, landscape architecture, architecture, public works, parks and recreation, and crime prevention; realtors, developers, builders and bankers; advocates for equity and environmental justice, youth, older adults, and walking and biking; labor representatives; school leaders and staff; environmentalists; and all others committed to building safer, healthier and more livable communities everywhere.


The program will span three full days with optional pre-conference events scheduled for Wednesday, January 28 and post-conference events scheduled for Sunday February 1. The main program will kick off on Thursday morning, January 29, and continue through Saturday afternoon. The schedule includes a dynamic mix of plenaries, breakouts, implementation workshops, focused training sessions, peer-to-peer learning opportunities, and coordinated networking activities. It will also feature exciting tours of local model projects in and around the greater Baltimore region.

There will be something for everybody, from veteran experts to smart-growth novices, with close to 80 sessions and workshops to choose from. Learn from hundreds of speakers who cross disciplines to share insights, valuable tools and strategies for making smart growth a success in your community. The program will be infused with sessions and case studies focusing on important social equity and environmental justice issues.

Conference History

By bringing together so many different thinkers, practitioners, activists, community leaders and elected officials from an ever-evolving and expanding spectrum of disciplines and innovative perspectives, New Partners has guided a strong and diverse movement grounded in the values of sustainable communities for over a decade.

The origins of this conference can be traced to late 1995 when the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency first launched its Smart Growth Program. As part of this effort, the EPA sought to organize a national conference that would focus on environmentally sensitive growth and development.

In December 1997, the EPA, together with the Urban Land Institute, co-sponsored the first “Partners for Smart Growth” conference. Conferences followed in Austin in 1998, then San Diego and finally, in Atlanta. The LGC participated in the San Diego conference, organizing a third day focused on smart growth in the Western States.

The LGC began organizing conferences on “livable communities” somewhat earlier, producing five installments of its highly successful “Putting Our Communities Back on Their Feet Conference” on the East and West Coasts in the mid-to-late 1990s.

In 2001, the LGC partnered with the Centers for Disease Control, the California Department of Transportation and Penn State University to produce a “first of its kind” national, multidisciplinary event titled “Redesigning Community: A Smart Growth Approach to Street and Neighborhood Design, Crime Prevention, and Public Health and Safety” in San Diego.

Immediately following that event, the EPA approached the LGC about merging their collective efforts. Addressing the key issues on the table, the appropriately titled “New Partners for Smart Growth” multidisciplinary conference has now made memorable stops in San Diego, New Orleans, Portland, Miami, Denver, Los Angeles, Washington, DC, Albuquerque, Seattle and Charlotte—building momentum and attracting new supporters every year.

Over the past decade, the basic principles of smart growth have not changed, but the realization of their importance continues to grow as more civic leaders, professionals, and interest groups recognize smart growth as a solution to the challenges in their communities. Thanks to a trail blazed by determined and visionary pioneers, smart growth is now widely and rightfully understood as a necessary, if not sufficient, way of addressing many of the most difficult economic, environmental, and social challenges we face today in communities across the country.

The enduring strength of the New Partners conference comes from the diversity of participants who cross disciplinary lines to share experiences, insights, inspiration, valuable implementation tools and strategies.  The 2015 event will continue this exciting trend and welcomes even more new partners who recognize smart growth as a viable solution to the problems they encounter in their professions.

Check out our 10th-anniversary commemorative booklet from the 2011 conference.

With the critical challenges that lie ahead, there are more reasons than ever to join hands with new partners and work toward our common goal of creating safe, healthy, equitable, economically vibrant, and livable communities for all.

About New Partners

Conference Organizers

"The challenges of the 21st century will require an unprecedented level of collaboration and innovation. Working together across disciplines, we can create communities that are resilient, prosperous and equitable. The New Partners conference will connect you to diverse experts, new strategies and cutting-edge tools that will help create positive change, starting with your community."
— Kate Meis, Executive Director, Local Government Commission
Michele Kelso Warren
916-448-1198 x308
mkwarren ‘AT’ lgc ‘DOT’ org

Nico Gilbert-Igelsrud
916-448-1198 x327
ngigelsrud ‘AT’ lgc ‘DOT’ org

About the Event

Why You Should Attend

A Green Conference