My plan would include code enforcement and holding those who own buildings in blighted areas responsible for violations. My plan also includes outside of the box solutions for turning these dilapidated buildings into thriving businesses, parks, parking spaces or other useful areas. We need a strategy that includes incentives, renovations, demolition and solutions to beautify the landscape and grow the economy. This is a team approach that needs to be aggressive and productive.
Housing is one of my top priorities as Mayor of Hopkinsville. Solutions to our housing-shortage is multi-faceted and my plan has multiple approaches. We need to look at areas in our inner city that can be renovated or rebuilt, one block or one street at a time. I have been researching this area and found some creative solutions to redeveloping areas in our community. Second, is to look at which parcels of land are ripe for residential development. This includes a number of factors such as availability, cost, infrastructure, etc. We need to understand what developers need and how to get more of them building new homes. We also need to look at programs and plans to get more of our residents to transition from renting to home ownership. I have also explored new and innovative ways that other communities have found success doing this. An increase in housing leads to attracting families to our area which in turn, betters our schools, increases retail and restaurant opportunities and other ripple affects that only betters our local economy.
Economic development produces jobs, tax revenue, and thriving communities. What we have to focus on, is what produces economic development? What are the top factors for attracting industry and investment in our community? It starts with education, increasing our population, housing opportunity, infrastructure, incentives, and the list goes on. The office of the Mayor should work closely with our community stakeholders to address these issues so that we can continue to improve our potential for investment. One way to think of attracting investment and improving our economic development opportunity is to compare it to job application. We have to clean up and polish our resume to attract the best offers and sometimes that includes improving our community statistics. Increasing the median income, increasing home ownership, increasing our workforce, green initiatives, and investing in cleaning up our city are just some starting points but would aid in our desire to grow our economy and our tax base. Speaking of taxes, we should continue working with our state legislators to demand a more competitive tax structure if we wish to compete with our surrounding region for industry, population growth and workforce.
Homelessness is a growing concern nationwide. Our homeless population in Hopkinsville can be attributed to various reasons, but what causes someone to become homeless is just as multifaceted as the solution. My administration will approach the issue with empathy but with a team effort of addressing the causes as well as the potential aid needed to change the trajectory of the issue. The difference between those who are homeless and those who aren’t is support. Many homeless do not have the support they need yet they suffer from the same issues as the rest of us. Those health issues are then compounded when living in the elements exacerbates underlying health problems. Each homeless person on our streets also comes with a cost to taxpayers (shelter stays, jail time, emergency room visits, etc.). Those costs could register in the thousands per person/per year on the street. The irony is that our community seems to be experiencing a similar vicious cycle as those who are homeless. We recognize the issue, but due to the lack of resources (support) we are forced to allow the issue to continue. The solution rests in the breaking of that cycle. We have to broker the kind of support that addresses each facet of the issue and directly aids in the needs of our community. And that includes our business community as well. We have to recognize that just like every other issue we face, we have to look at the solution across the entire community. Just like health care and automotive maintenance, preventative measures seem to be the best way to control the rise in issues.
Just as our political divide creates issues, we should also recognize any issues created by any division. Exclusion of any segment of our community is detrimental to our growth. We need to ensure we are considering diversity in everything that the City is responsible for providing but also to encourage our other local businesses to seek training and educate our population of the importance of inclusion. We all share the same community. Our community will only thrive when we include everyone and realize that we are all neighbors sharing a hometown. We bear the responsibility of promoting unity and ensuring we all can enjoy calling Hopkinsville home.
While all of the areas of our community are important, a thriving downtown is the heartbeat of any community. Similar to addressing blighted areas, we need to get creative and form a strategy that starts with a main intersection that we can build out from. We have seen great success in areas like 6th Street and Main Street but much more can be done. We need to support our small business owners and talk those who are investing in this area to find out what their challenges are and how the city can be helpful. We also need to be strategic in how we market downtown and encourage cross-promotion. This will take a group effort and involve a diverse dialogue on how we continue to building upon the downtown area.
My administration will focus on the issues mentioned here in this survey, but we will work diligently to revitalize our hometown and give our entire community a Hopkinsville they can be proud to call home. We want a Hopkinsville that will ultimately allow our kids to return home after college or trade school to start their own families right here in the town I grew up loving.