Quality of Life (It’s hard to define but I always know it when I see it)

Posted by Rickey Hayes on August 17, 2011 in Blog | No Comments

Written by
Rickey Hayes
Retail Attractions, LLC

Cities all over the country are experiencing rapid changes that will set precedence for the future. Decisions being made now will affect countless multitudes many years in the future. It is imperative that community leaders cast a vision of what could be and what is possible. That vision has to be communicated effectively to the citizens, so that families in the community can live, work, and play knowing they have a positive future ahead of them. Communities that refuse to plan for growth and for change, or that refuse to put infrastructure in place that will allow for positive change are always going to be playing “catch up”. Everybody knows the economy is unstable. If city governments wait until the national economy stabilizes, it will be impossible to plan for the future. Note: the future is coming whether the economy stabilizes or not. Cities that are choosing to improve the quality of life for their citizens by investing in the future are going to grow and prosper, in per capita scale, no matter what happens to the national economy.

Quality of life is a nebulous, hard to define condition that sets communities apart from one another. Any person who has ever traveled at all has seen areas where you say to yourself, ” this place is nice”. Correspondingly we have all been to neighborhoods or communities where the feeling is anything but nice. Quality of life is a force that can affect housing values, residential growth, private sector investment, and local pride. Quality of life is also very hard to maintain. It tends to deteriorate very rapidly and must constantly be improved. Shopping and retail choices, academic and educational choices, youth sports and other recreational opportunities, and well maintained roadways and developments affect quality of life. Cities are discovering that in order to grow and stay competitive they must now contend with communities outside their immediate locales, some of which are far, far more invested in the quality of life staples that they themselves desire.

What does it take to insure that optimum quality of life grows with a community? First, it takes VISION to see what could be and what is possible and practical for a specific locale. It takes COURAGE to think outside the box and perhaps even to think outside of the way we have always done it before. Finally, it takes MONEY. Everything comes with a cost. True to form, the old adage “you get what you pay for” applies to this discussion.

I’ve had the pleasure of working for dozens of different cities across the country. I’ve seen lots of city council meetings and lots of local politics. I’ve seen good city managers and some who were in the wrong business. I’ve seen city councils and trustee boards with real public servants and I’ve experienced some where elected officials ran for office because they had an axe to grind or where there to line their own pockets or the pockets of their friends. The real joy of my work comes when we see a body of elected officials who decide to put their personal likes and wishes aside and work together to make their community a better place. When people have a collective vision and are all working for the same goal, amazing things can happen.

The responsibility of handling public funds is a sacred trust. For the sake of the future, public monies should be invested in ways that will bring a good return and improve the overall quality of life in a community. City leaders should be vision casters, and at the very least take heart of their responsibility as a public servant to make wise investments for the future quality of life of their citizens. If your answer is always “NO” to growth and to change you are the enemy of quality of life. Anybody who runs for public office should have a plan and a process in mind that would make life better for all their constituents. If you are a public servant now, and all you do is generate strife and negativism, you should resign. Every public servant should lead, follow, or get out of the way. Let the citizens decide what quality of life and amenities they want to pay for.

Contact us today to make a seemingly overwhelming task more manageable.

Rickey Hayes is the principal of Retail Attractions, LLC, a firm dedicated to helping cities and developers successfully find retail sites, close deals and improve the quality of life for our client cities.

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