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Brookings Mountain West

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Utah has become an unlikely leader in regional planning through a voluntary partnership of key leaders, agencies, local government, and the general public. Given that regional planning efforts around the nation have generally evoked strong reactions from residents concerned about losing local control, the success of Envision Utah—the organization that emerged as a key driver of regional planning in Utah—in building a consensus around regional growth management holds lessons for other regions.

Envision Utah adopted several strategies that have distinguished Utah’s regional planning efforts from other regions and given rise to what can be called the “Utah model” of collaborative planning. Envision Utah found success by not only tapping into people’s shared values and aspirations, but also because of its significant public engagement, use of convincing, unbiased data to demonstrate the need to work regionally, and ability to garner broad buy‐in from important stakeholders in the community.

As more is learned from Envision Utah’s success in regional coordination, a number of takeaways appear relevant for other regions:

  • Pay attention to the sustainability and capacity of the leading organization
  • Arm the public with clear data and analysis, skillfully marketed
  • Package all proposals and principles to appeal to the values of the community
  • Spend time initiating and maintaining the right political setup


Leadership; Politics; Practical; Regional planning; Sustainability; Utah; Values


Growth and Development | Policy Design, Analysis, and Evaluation | Policy History, Theory, and Methods | Public Affairs, Public Policy and Public Administration | Urban Studies and Planning