By Explorebigsky.com Staff Writer

BOZEMAN – There’s good business in building strong communities, according to Randy Carpenter of the nonprofit Sonoran Institute. And as the housing market recovers, new evidence suggests homeowners are seeking a new set of choices when deciding where to live.

According to new research compiled by the Sonoran Institute, which has offices in Bozeman, Glenwood Springs, Colo. and Tuscon, Ariz., developers and homeowners in the Mountain West appear to be shifting their priorities away from suburban subdivisions, turning increasingly toward revitalized town centers with a strong sense of community, shortened commutes, proximity to amenities and greater housing choices.

Carpenter points to the retirement of the Baby Boomers – which typically means moving to a smaller home, closer to shopping and health care services – plus the entrance of the Generation Y into the housing market, as two big reasons for this trend.

“It portends a lot of change,” he said.

Analysts from around the country will be joined by local builders to discuss these changing trends, and what they mean for communities, governments and businesses around the Rocky Mountain West at the Community Builders Summit in Bozeman, Jan. 30-31.

“This event takes a close look at the trends that are driving new markets,” said Randy Carpenter of the Sonoran Institute, which is hosting the event. “Every realtor, policy-maker, lender or developer in the region will benefit from the information our speakers will be presenting at the Summit.”

Joe Minicozzi of Urban 3, a real estate analysis and development firm based in Asheville, N.C., will present findings from several recent studies from Idaho, Wyoming and Montana comparing the financial performance of different types of development. This study spotlights the financial success that downtowns and mixed-use centers in the northern Rockies have experienced in generating tax revenues.

Local speakers include MSU professor of architecture Ralph Johnson, Greg McCall from Billings, and Paul Del Rossi from Sheridan, Wyo.

“Paul and Greg’s projects both exemplify the type of product that buyers are moving toward,” Carpenter said. “And to witness the success these projects have had in the middle of a recession is remarkable.”

Joined by Adam Ducker, from RCLCO, a national real estate advisory firm, and Andy Knudtsen, of Economic and Planning Systems, the conference’s speakers will share practical tools that communities can use to align their economic development and community development efforts to capture these emerging markets.

By providing data- and experienced-backed information, Carpenter hopes the conference will “kick start a conversation about the future of our built environment in the Northern Rockies and in Western Colorado.”

Even communities that weren’t part of the study can learn from it, he said – “how to assess and analyze their own community, the sort of demographic changes we’re looking at and what sort of income trends we’re looking at… We think communities that position themselves as places where people want to be, and that are building the right sort of product for that market – they’re going to be successful.”

More information is available at: sonoraninstitute.org/communitybuilderssummit. Continuing education credits will be offered for AICP planners and Montana real estate agents.