Cities are like buildings. They need to be updated from time to time. At the most basic level, if infrastructure—roads, water, and sewer systems—is not maintained, the city becomes an undesirable place in which to live and do business. In addition to basic maintenance tasks, cities need programs to attract employment and keep retail healthy. They should provide public amenities such as parks and open space, promote a wide range of housing choices, support high-quality education, and encourage the development of cultural and entertainment facilities.
With all of these competing demands, the primary question for every city is where to spend scarce public funds. What are the projects or programs that will be the most beneficial? What public improvements will attract the best private investment and improve the quality of life? Answers to these and many other questions can be answered by creating a Transformation Strategy. This is the essential tool for fixing a city—whether large or small, whether losing or gaining population. An effective Transformation Strategy eliminates guesswork and guides decision-making about spending priorities and critical interventions.