This is known as “Placemaking” and has been the subject of much research as of late. Placemaking’s goal is to make our communities people focused and that in turn attracts people and therefore business opportunity to a community. (Read Dennis Mahoney’s article on this from last week’s Telegram “Happy cities are good for the economy” to get a better sense of what I am talking about and why I am talking about it).
I was first introduced to this Placemaking concept a few years back while sitting on Council. We (the College and the Town) were part of a research project (involving Clarenville) that was conducted by Memorial University’s Harris Centre. In this research we measured the factors that attracted people – particularly young and educated people - to a region and what kept them in that region as productive and engaged citizens. Once you get beyond the academic gobble-goop, the report’s findings suggested that PLACE and the things in and about the PLACE attract and retain people, which in turn creates business opportunity. You can read the report HERE
If we have a healthy community with healthy people living in it, we create the opportunity that businesses need to develop. The Town’s job should be to focus on its people. By ACTIVELY supporting/investing/building/maintaining socially responsible housing, people focused subdivision development, great parks & trails, excellent recreation facilities and providing opportunities for townspeople to be proud of their community, the Town can create (and measure) real "Development".
A two pronged approach - Refocus Economic Development Efforts (Onto People!)
We know it works!
I would argue that further investing in placemaking would create more benefit, attract and retain more people, create more business opportunity and the benefits would be more easily measured.