— Improvements to quality of life in Kokomo will continue to be a major focus for city officials looking to improve the local economy, said Mayor Greg Goodnight.
A report from the U.S. Conference of Mayors last week consistently placed Kokomo at the bottom of 363 metro areas for economy-related rankings. However, that did not sway Goodnight from his platform of improving living quality as a way to attract business investment.
Rather than change directions because of a report he said was skewed because Kokomo was compared to major metros such as New York, Goodnight plans to stick to what he said has been working for a lot of other cities in the U.S.: improving entertainment and aesthetics to make communities desirable places to live.
“There’s a report talking about the metropolitan areas that are growing,” he said. “They’re those that are capturing young families, ones that young families find attractive. It made me feel better that we’re heading on the right track.”
‘Jobs Move to People’
Goodnight was referring to a report in Forbes Magazine released earlier this month.
Forbes, citing U.S. Census data, says cities with the fastest growing populations of children ages 5 to 17 — Raleigh, N.C., Austin, Texas, and Charlotte, N.C. were noted — also have some of the fastest growing job markets.
Michael Hicks, director of Ball State University’s Center for Business and Economic Research, said improving quality of life in towns is an essential long-term investment for attracting businesses.
“In the short run, people move to jobs,” he said. “In the long run, jobs move to people.”
Recent work in the city that intends to improve quality of life has included:
• A Revolving Loan Fund that has helped several restaurants and stores open in the past year
• The addition and expansion of bicycle and walking paths