• The conversion of one-way roads to two-way roads downtown to allow better traffic flow
• The addition of a trolley service as public transit
• Bump outs, landscaping and other aesthetic work that has extended beyond downtown
Moving people to the Kokomo area is a major concern for City Hall, businesses and groups such as the Kokomo Downtown Association.
Goodnight said last week too many people work in the city but live outside of Howard County.
Smoothing A Rough Decade
Census estimates show Howard County’s population between 2000 and 2010 dipped about 2.6 percent to 82,752 people.
The population decrease was common among manufacturing towns in Indiana and the Midwest. Madison County lost 1.3 percent of its population, Delaware County lost 0.9 percent and Grant County lost 4.6 percent.
Job availability has been a major driver of the populations.
Employment in Kokomo peaked in early 2005 before the city lost almost a quarter of its jobs, according to the Conference of Mayors. The organization projects it will take until 2021 and beyond for the city, which in May had 10.5 percent unemployment, to make a complete job recovery.
Despite some of the dreary expectations for Kokomo, Hicks said, the city is well poised for growth and serves as an example for what other communities should do in terms of economic development.
Another element that has been drawing more young families, and the jobs that follow later on, is cost of living.
That should not be much of a concern for Howard County.
Homes so far in 2011 have sold at a median of $70,000, which was about 35.5 percent less than the state’s median of $108,500.
What Kokomo, like the rest of the U.S., needs to worry about with attracting businesses is the work force, Hicks said.
Many companies continue to receive floods of applications for job openings but cannot find qualified applicants, he said.