“Ladies and Gentlemen, start your engines!”… Your economic engines, that is. What role does walkability play in our local economy? I think it could play an increasingly important role and could be a big part of the next boom for Brevard. Beautiful, attractive places attract people. Can our beach towns become more attractive? Yes! Can all of our towns and cities in Brevard use some sprucing up? Of course! One of the challenges of city planning is to encourage reinvestment. If reinvestment doesn’t happen then a place will naturally decay and decline, but when reinvestment does occur places keep their attractiveness over the years. Look around Brevard and let’s be honest. A lot of our development is tired, dated, and worn. We need some reinvestment here to bring some new life to our area. How can we encourage reinvestment here in Brevard, and what does walkability have to do with it? Let’s look at one angle – walkable centers as an economic engine.
Walkable centers create activity on the street. Why don’t we just use some common sense as we plan the future of our communities? Activity on the street generates wealth for everyone. Retailers are happier when they have more customers. They can make more profit without having to reach out and attract people from far away if they have a built-in audience nearby. This translates to – hey, let’s build some more waklable places! Part of building walkability is to build things with a little higher density. A little bit of a higher residential density puts more bodies close to potential retail in the neighborhood. It’s kind of a no-brainer. Are we talking about turning Brevard into Manhatten or Miami? No. Of course we don’t have to go to the extreme to get some benefits. Let’s just create some places that are a little higher density without sacrificing the unique personality of our region. This is possible. A few higher-density, walkable centers in select locations within an easy drive of most of our population could make all the difference for our local economy.
Think about the far-reaching effects here. If we build a few places that can act as economic engines for our county it improves life for all of us. If our local economy is thriving then all of our businesses do better. If our retailers are succeeding, they can in turn create more jobs. They put more money into our local economy. Businesses that support local retailers in turn will prosper. All of our incomes go up as a result. It’s a snowball effect. When our incomes go up we can all spend more money in the local economy and become part of a cycle of increasing wealth generation.