Sunday, September 10, 2017

Cities are Systems

"Cities are places of human convergence, where people live, work, and play. But beneath the bustle of any city are systems that make these hubs of humanity function. Cities are akin to living things that take in energy, metabolize material, and spit out waste. They consume and grow, using digestive, respiratory, and circulatory systems. And, like living things, cities can, with a nudge from citizens and
their leaders, evolve in directions that increase their prospects for survival."
Can a City be Sustainable, Gary Gardner

Strategically Rocky Mount is positioned ideally to flourish. Certainly it has had its difficulties with the loss of tobacco, textiles, and trains as primary economic drivers. Then with the movement of the banking industry away from our city, we suffered another loss of our identity. Meanwhile 45 minutes east of us are some of the fastest growing communities in North Carolina. What should be our strategy moving forward?

First we need to create a single, comprehensive, and actionable strategic plan for growth and development that incentivizes new investment. With the investment already being made in the Rocky Mount Mills by Capital Broadcasting and the coming investment by CSX of the $275 million rail to truck terminal, it is time to leverage these advances into even more opportunities for Rocky Mount to flourish.

All of this begins with systems. As Gardner points out, a city is similar to a living body. When our bodies are not functioning well we seek medical care and determine how to treat the illness or injury. Similarly a critical evaluation of every system must occur so that we can help make our city more appealing to both current residents and new citizens. Improved systems will also allow Rocky Mount to be competitive when recruiting new businesses and investment.

Rocky Mount needs to become a "yes we can" community where our elected officials and city employees are empowered and encouraged to find ways to say "Yes!"

I have been privileged to work with the Central City Revitalization Panel for the past several years. Part of that work included assisting with the creation of a marketing document to help others see the benefit of investing in Rocky Mount. Download the document that summarizes those benefits here.

What systems do you think need immediate attention in our city? Where are we doing it right? Please leave your comments below.


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