There is a need for housing product diversification across the City. This simply means allowing mixed products and a variety of price points within the same area. Such diversity helps neighborhoods thrive whereas single family residential alone may not achieve this. Single-family homes, townhomes, condos, and apartments should all be allowed to develop across the City. They should be co-located – not separated into clusters – to help encourage a pattern of life cycle housing. This development pattern would allow recent college grads with their first job, couples starting families as well as retirees to all live in the same community and in close proximity to each other.
The Huntsville International Airport (HIA) is a key economic driver for the North Alabama region, both in terms of passenger service and freight operations. Due to certain circumstances beyond local control, however, it loses some passenger traffic to nearby larger hubs like Nashville, Birmingham, and even Atlanta.
Huntsville has had incredible success in corporate recruitment and relocations, including being a beneficiary of BRAC consolidations. While importing a talented and skilled workforce is a significant positive for the regional economy, it is also important to ensure that homegrown talent is valued and retained as well. Having so many relocations to the local economy can be leveraged to enable residents to grow and evolve.
Mixed-use developments that combine various components of housing, offices, and retail have become popular in the marketplace. These mixed-use developments have the potential to slow, and possibly reverse, the decline of aging suburban communities.
Performance measurement, both the activity itself and the application of the data, is a key component of success in community and economic development. Unfortunately, there are many misconceptions about performance measurement and its utility. In order for performance measurement to be successful and to produce benefit, regular and sustained measurement of progress toward specified outcomes has to happen. Further, the “right” things have to be measured correctly, or the resulting data could be misleading.
Public art is an oft-underappreciated facet of community. In cities where a robust and well-supported public art program exists, it has a notable positive effect not only on the quality of life, but on economic development. The expression of local character through public art communicates to residents and visitors that they’re in a creative and engaged community, one worthy of investment and reinvestment.
There is a great deal of overlap between quality of life and economic development. Nowhere is that more evident than in the opportunities for recreation in Huntsville. By continuing to build upon a strong recreational base, the City can make huge strides in improving quality of life for residents, and it can continue the diversification of the local economy.
Much of the strip center development along Huntsville’s major commercial corridors is ripe for redevelopment. It is important to make room for new businesses, just as it is important to make room for new residents. Retail pruning is going to be critically important, particularly along the Memorial Parkway and University Drive corridors, in the future. This basically means that having large quantities of low-quality space is actually worse than having less space, but of higher quality. Secondary and tertiary retail uses can overwhelm the marketplace and discourage the interest of developers and potential merchants.
Entrepreneurs and small businesses are a critical linchpin in the transformation and diversification of the local economic base. Entrepreneurs tend to be “sticky,” that is, they tend to stay in the same place or at least in close proximity to the place they started their business; beginning what is called a “virtuous cycle.” Entrepreneurs and small businesses are assets for a community because they are making localized decisions and increasing local leadership capacity. Most importantly, entrepreneurs create wealth locally, and thus, keep local dollars cycling through the local economy. It is crucial to support people that are already in the community, trying to get a foothold on starting a business, figuring out how to make sure their business survives, or taking an existing business to the next level.
Town-and-gown districts are typically pedestrian-friendly. They offer bike and ped greenways connecting to the community, retail nodes with storefronts providing bookstores, coffee shops, restaurants, and other student-oriented retail, topped by offices or apartments. They not only improve the environment around the campus, they serve as a gateway for students and business people to connect and collaborate.