engaged in a national competition for a talented workforce, entrepreneurs, and
the investment that follows both. That
was the focus of a strategic vision meeting I attended with Anchorage Economic
Development Council (AEDC). And that competition goes far beyond the jobs or
salaries – it means Anchorage also must be an attractive community, the type of
place that lures entrepreneurs and young professionals into re-locating here.
We are a very young city; at 105 years old Anchorage
is an infant compared to some of our Pacific Northwest partners cities, like
Seattle or Portland. At 168 each, those
cities are still just toddlers themselves. Though Anchorage may be on the young
side, we still need some sprucing up and revitalization. That’s where
“Placemaking” comes into play. What is that you ask? Let me tell you.
Placemaking, according to a pamphlet by the International Economic Development
Council (IEDC) is, “the practice of creating or enhancing a community’s assets
to improve its overall attractiveness or livability”. Placemaking includes
large public infrastructure projects as well as pop-up or temporary efforts.
Did you know that, according to the AEDC, 66% of 25-34-year old with degrees
look for a job only AFTER they have chosen a community to live? They find work after they find a community!
From street configurations to plaza dynamics to community engagement activities,
placemaking is concerned with not only the spaces in our cities but the human
interactions that make cities great. It’s all about People – Place –
Connection. And isn’t that what we want? A place to connect with other people
who are a part of your community? Now don’t get me wrong, I am a country boy at
heart and being from the country with acres and acres of rolling fields where I
used to ride my horses will always be a place where one day I hope to go back.
But for now, in this point of my life, community is everything. I want that sense of belonging to a vibrant
and cohesive part of my city - and it looks like Anchorage is headed that
direction as well.