"Hanging flower baskets are considered a good investment by many cities and towns, says Ed McMahon, senior resident fellow at the Urban Land Institute in Washington. "People make decisions every day about where to visit, where to invest and where to retire based on what communities look like," he says. "A community with flowers and trees, and without billboards and shlock, will always attract more business than one that looks like everyplace else. Annapolis is a major tourist attraction precisely because it looks different and unique, and the flowers are part of the package."
What McMahon calls "return on perception" can be hard to quantify, though, when it comes to soliciting funds."