What do all these cities and regions have in common besides the need to attract people to move back to their neighborhoods? Hmm, good question! Well, each city has something to share, sometimes it just needs to be uncovered or explored.
What do all these cities and regions have in common besides the need to attract people to move back to their neighborhoods? Hmm, difficult question! Well, each city has something to share (whether they know it or not) -- sometimes it just needs to be uncovered, explored, polished, or advertised.
A couple years ago I worked an economic development plan for a struggling county in my state (with many struggling cities). What we focused on was not attracting big money companies to the county but building upon the assets that existed within and finding ways to strengthen and share them with others. Sometimes the cities weren't aware the treasures they had until we probed the locals and interviewed prominent figures. Talking to the people is the key. You can't come in to a culture and tell them what they need, you have to start by getting to know the people, culture, traditions, history, strengths, and more.
For cities that have a lot to offer (but they have gone unnoticed) and after assets are identified they need to be advertised with outsiders: maybe festivals, celebrations, events encouraging participation, or other ways to get people to come visit, explore and learn more about what the city has to offer and why they should move there.
For cities that need some help developing a base that is attractive to others, identifying basic assets may provide a starting point to build upon, strengthen and turn into an economic basis, making the city more viable for families to move.
Either way, identifying assets can also be a great way to identify potential new businesses, strengthen existing ones, or connect asset to each other which could be mutually beneficial (i.e. a town has a small, but successful vineyard and a bottle making company but they don't know each other exists. Nor do they know they could do business together until after the town unites, creates an asset map of their city and shares it with locals and businesses).
The "Grow Our Region" website (see excerpt from their website below) is one of the many tools that exist today that explore the process of asset mapping and may benefit urban designers, planners, architects and landscape architects of these cities.
"The Grow Our Region website is a tool for self-directed learning, created to improve the effectiveness of community and economic development and enhance the capacity of our regions.
It is for those who may be directly engaged in development activities at the local or regional level...as well as for funders, educators, students and others who also play a role in shaping the future of their communities."