O P I N I O N
Paying for Vision that becomes Reality
Over the past few years, I have shared things that could make our city an even greater place to live, work, and play. One question that I am asked a lot is how we would pay for the ideas/projects. As I have said in the past, vision is free, it’s realizing the vision that costs money. And of course, although I like to see the end result of things that I propose, I understand that in many cases we need to “dream big but start small.”
Even though vision is free, I do understand that if vision is to become reality, at some point, financial investments will need to be made. While thinking about this, I have come up with some ideas on how projects could be funded. Because I do not believe that the government should be expected to pay for everything, I will be presenting multiple ideas.
Sometimes companies will provide funding for projects because they not only help improve the community, but can help the company recruit and retain workers as well as attract more business and get contracts. Think about it; many employees are attracted to companies that are located in nice communities with good schools and with things like restaurants, shopping, etc. In addition, working for the company that is involved in the community is a plus. It’s a win-win. So let’s think of some companies, especially locally-owned ones, that may be willing to help finance a project in exchange for – in addition to publicity – naming rights or some other benefit. (Maybe a benefit that could be passed off to employees).
The city has received some grants for various projects happening in our city, but most of the ones that I have read about are public grants. Why not explore private grants that could be used for the betterment of our community? Private foundations often have such grants, we just need to apply if we haven’t.
One thing that I have seen on a smaller scale is “adopt-a-block” programs. An organization “adopts” a block in the city and cares for it by picking up trash, organizing and promoting events such as block parties, and keeps up with community events and helps residents reach out to various officials to address issues. In exchange, the company name and logo appear on adopt-a-block signage throughout the neighborhood, similar to signs that appear on highways.
For projects, a company – or multiple companies – could adopt the area (or block) where the investment is. This would probably work better for housing and projects of the like. The adopting company could also pay a percentage of upkeep in the area. There are many ways to do this.
Probably the most well-known investment type. If utilizing this type of investment, it is important that it is equally beneficial to the community as it is for the company. What we don’t want is back-room deals, or well-connected friends reaping the benefits at the expense of the taxpayer. Transparency is always important, but is vital with public-private partnerships.
As we all know, there is more than one way to get things done. Creative ideas and brainstorming can turn our vision for a better Manchester into reality. It is often said to “think outside the box.” I respond by saying, “what box?”
A few more ideas for a better Manchester
Of course, I have a few more ideas that in my opinion would work well here, especially as we grow and experience a changing population and changing tastes.
Food trucks/Businesses on Wheels
Manchester has never been a place where food trucks were a “thing.” But food trucks are popular and a great option for people who want to have a restaurant without the costs and other issues of having a brick-and-mortar location. And truck businesses do not have to be “restaurants on wheels.” There are many different types of “truck businesses” out there. I have seen everything from the standard food truck to jewelry and fashion trucks, to cafe/gourmet coffee trucks as well as donut/bakery trucks.
I have been to food truck festivals, which Manchester has, as well as food truck villages and parks. I’ve even seen food trucks at workplaces. Instead of the traditional canteen at lunchtime, a food truck pulls up.
I have seen street performers at some festivals in Manchester, but it is certainly not a common thing. Why not have street performers along Elm Street on a Saturday evening during the summer, or along a “Market Walk,” as I wrote about in my last article?
Raised and Uniform Crosswalks along Elm Street
This is both a safety issue as well as a personal annoyance for me. First, the safety portion: ALL crosswalks along Elm Street should be raised. This would not only show drivers that there is a crosswalk there, but having it raised would increase walker visibility as well as act as a “speed table” and calm/slow traffic. I’ve seen way too many pedestrians playing Frogger or Crossy Road while trying to cross Elm Street and think that we need to do better.
Now for the annoyance: It kinda annoys me that the crosswalks along Elm Street are not uniform. They are more uniform than in the past, but they look like an afterthought and do not match the area. In my opinion, the crosswalks along Elm Street should all be brick style – like some are – except for the one near Cat Alley, that one is fitting. I just think it better fits the area, especially the ones near streets with arches. (Something like this would be perfect for an adopt-a-block sponsor).
Those are my thoughts and ideas for this week. Working together, we can get this done! As always, if you have any comments or ideas feel free to send me a message at firstname.lastname@example.org.