How One Town Cut Operations to Invest in Capital Projects

A detailed case study of Kokomo, Indiana, which has achieved an impressive record of investments in streetscape and other capital projects, even as it struggled to deal with the effects of the recession.
September 1, 2014, 7am PDT | James Brasuell | @CasualBrasuell
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Aaron M. Renn examines the case of Kokomo, Indiana, a small industrial city of 57,000 people 45 miles north of Indianapolis, to test the "cut to invest" paradigm supported by Bruce Katz at the Brookings Institution. "The idea is to cut spending on operations and lower priority items in order finance investments in higher priority infrastructure or other projects."

Here Renn summarizes recent changes in Kokomo:

What I discovered is that Kokomo has done a lot more than just build a trail. They’ve deconverted every one way street downtown back to two way, removed every stop light and parking meter in the core of downtown, are building a mixed use downtown parking garage with a new YMCA across the street, have a pretty extensive program of pedestrian friendly street treatments like bumpouts, as well as landscaping and beautification, a new baseball stadium under construction, a few apartment developments in the works, and even a more urban feel to its public housing.

Renn notes that all of these projects were achieved with an admirable attention to design details and while paying in cash. The article goes on to provide images and detailed analysis of the choices the leadership of Kokomo has made in deciding to invest and where to cut.

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Published on Friday, August 29, 2014 in Urbanophile
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