"... cities are characterized by a sense of place, beauty in the natural environment, a mixed -use transportation system, and a 24-hour life style. These are the characteristics that will attract the creativity and brainpower that undergird the new economy"
-- Steven Roulac
A significant change is being experienced in the American economy. Today commerce is composed of smokeless industries, high technology and service-sector businesses that are collectively referred to as the "New Economy." Companies are no longer tied to a specific location in order to achieve a competitive advantage.
As the main source of establishing wealth and economic growth, occupational recruits are now promoting their knowledge in place of physical labor.
Business has set its sights on retaining talent and recruiting savvy technical ability. As a result, companies are looking to determine what factors are important to the skilled applicant when making employment decisions.
This new breed of worker prefers places with a diverse range of outdoor recreational activities, from walking trails to rock climbing.
In the course of this attraction, money is put back into the local economy through jobs, housing and taxes, which then contribute to the establishment of parks.
Municipal parks provide cities with built-in aesthetic, environmental and recreational benefits. Understanding the economic impacts of parks helps elected officials to be proactive in setting aside land for the creation and maintenance of urban parks.
A community's interest in walking trails, bike paths, transit- oriented development, parks and the recreational amenities they bring are now being reflected in the terms "my trail" ... "my park" ... "my home."
Real estate brokers and homebuilders across the country are advocating parks as one of the top residential selling points. The desire to live near parks translates into real dollars.
In a recent survey by the National Association of Realtors, 57 percent of the respondents said they would choose a home close to parks and open space over one that was not.
Additionally, the survey found 50 percent of others polled would be willing to pay 10 percent more for a house located near a park or protected open space.
Of interest also is a review by the Economics Research Associates that showed that one of the most popular planned community models today is golf-course residential development. However, according to the review, as many as two-thirds of the people living in these communities do not regularly play golf.
By promoting, supporting and revitalizing urban parks, cities can help attract significant economic development and promote residents' satisfaction.
Steve Curtis has worked as a business consultant and communication specialist. He is currently mayor of Layton. He can be reached at email@example.com.