Kokomo Mayor Greg Goodnight delivered the State of the City March 14th, declaring that Kokomo must face the dual challenges of increasing the community’s educational level, and increasing the number of Kokomo workers who live in the Kokomo community.

“These two challenges are vital to our long-term future as a community, and won’t be solved in just two or three years,” Mayor Goodnight said. “They will require a long-term strategy. We must understand them, we must face them, and we must overcome them.”

Mayor Goodnight called the community to action, and announced a proposed new program to offer forgivable loans on exterior improvements, for Kokomo residents who currently do not own property in Howard County and out-of-county residents who decide to make Kokomo their home. The program would provide funding for improvements such as siding, windows and porch repairs to residents who purchase a home which has been sitting vacant for several months.

“This plan would accomplish a number of goals at once,” Mayor Goodnight said. “It increases our population in the short term, and helps to sustain it in the long term by bringing new families into vacant properties; it leverages private investment, at a ratio of four private dollars for every one public dollar; it provides new consumers for Kokomo’s small businesses; it creates a business opportunity for our local contractors; it increases our city’s tax base; it increases property values for Kokomo’s current homeowners and property owners; and it helps stabilize all of our neighborhoods by improving these properties and the entire neighborhood in which they are located.”

 Among other highlights of the speech, Mayor Goodnight:

·Stressed the importance of education to economic development: “If we want to attract diverse jobs, and all of us do, we need a diverse workforce. If we want to attract high-tech jobs, and all of us do, we need a high-tech workforce. And education is essential to making that happen.”

 ·Encouraged the community to respect and support our teachers and public school systems: “As a community, let’s decide that instead of criticizing our schools, we will support our schools. Let’s decide that instead of criticizing our students, we will support our students. And for goodness sakes, let’s decide that instead of criticizing our teachers, we will support our teachers, and give them the respect and admiration they so richly deserve.”

 · Unveiled a multifaceted plan to attract new residents. In addition to the exterior repair program, it would involve several facets of the Kokomo community, including realtors, large employers and the service industry: “We will need our local businesses to consider ways they can help, by offering deep, deep discounts to newly relocating residents on the most desirable products and services.”

 Source: City of Kokomo