Dena Belzer, President

Dena_2012_v3In 1998, Ms. Belzer founded Strategic Economics in Berkeley, California. Since then, the firm has expanded its staff, scope, and national impact.

Ms. Belzer has 30 years experience working on economic issues ranging in scale from regional growth management to individual development projects.  Her work has helped position Strategic Economics as a national leader in developing innovative urban economics research techniques that guide local public policy decisions, and are based on sound market principles– while simultaneously fostering sustainable communities and creating places with lasting value.  This work has included a wide range of clients including cities, counties, transit agencies, metropolitan planning organizations, councils of governments, economic development organizations, developers, and a number of community-based organizations.  Under Ms. Belzer’s leadership, Strategic Economics has worked on numerous award-winning projects and was central to the creation of the Center for Transit Oriented Development (CTOD), a three-way partnership that included Reconnecting America and the Center for Neighborhood Technology. The CTOD was also known for its high-quality research and innovative approach to TOD implementation. In addition to her project-based work, Ms. Belzer has published numerous white papers with sponsors including the Brookings Institution, the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, and the Federal Transit Administration.  Funding for this research has come from a variety of sources including the Ford Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, the Surdna Foundation, the Federal Transit Administration, the Local Government Commission and the Congress for New Urbanism.

Ms. Belzer’s reputation as a creative thinker, strong communicator, and support case maker for the principles of smart growth and sustainable communities has earned her recognition as one of the U.S. EPA’s national experts on smart growth implementation.  In this capacity, Ms. Belzer has worked with communities facing a multitude of growth challenges, ranging from economies in the inner mountain west transforming from a tourism base to second home development; slow growth regions with continued sprawl including upstate New York; and, large fast growing communities with expanding economies like Denver and Houston. Her most recent EPA assignments include an evaluation of new and innovative strategies for financing TOD infrastructure, and the creation of Equitable Development and Fiscal Health tools.

Other projects to which Ms. Belzer has contributed include a TOD implementation strategy for the West Corridor in the Denver region; a TOD strategic investment plan for Portland (Oregon) Metro; an economics strategy for the reuse of a former auto manufacturing plant in the Bay Area; an economic base assessment for a two-county region; and, an assessment of the economic benefits of a streetcar line. Additionally, she was a key member of the team responsible for creating the Transit Oriented Affordable Housing fund in the Bay Area. This fund was the first regional structured fund started by a metropolitan planning organization that is dedicated to providing affordable housing opportunities near transit, in the U.S.

Prior to founding Strategic Economics, Ms. Belzer was a partner at Bay Area Economics (BAE). While there, she managed over 60 projects ranging from small fiscal and market studies to large scale strategic development plans, including the economics portions of several military base reuse plans, a market study informing reuse decisions about the former Stapleton Airport in Denver, and multiple neighborhood revitalization and economic development strategies.

Ms. Belzer is president of the Board of Directors for Community Economics Inc., a non-profit organization specializing in affordable housing finance.  She is regularly invited to serve as a featured speaker at conferences and has served on multiple Advisory Panels for the Urban Land Institute and as a resource team member for over ten Mayors Institutes for City Design, sponsored by the National Endowment for the Arts. Ms. Belzer received her Master in City and Regional Planning from the University of California at Berkeley, and a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Pitzer College.

Contact in Ms. Belzer:

(510) 647-5291, ext. 108

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