Development and Transformation of Cities

Development and Transformation of Cities

Time has seen various localities achieve tremendous development and transform into big cities. The change and development can be attributed to various key actors in the areas. The most important role players in regional development include; private citizens, corporate investors, and administrative officials. Sufficient development is only achieved whenever all these actors join together and act with the public interest at heart. These collaborations help these regions to withstand various political, economic and social setbacks that they may come across in the course of their development. Wichita, in the state of Kansas, is an example of a locality that has transformed from a downtown trading center into the largest city in Kansas. The city has withstood various challenges to rise to its today’s stature. It is in this context that this paper will provide a detailed exposition of the gradual economic growth of Wichita and the roles elected leaders have to play. It will also take in to account the concept of public interest and how it is perceived by various key role players in the city’s development.

Wichita, which was once a small downtown trading center, is currently one of the most productive industrial hubs in the USA.  Due to the economic opportunities that the city offers, with time, as of December 2017, its population had grown to about 391000. The city can boast as being one of the aircraft manufacturing hubs in the world. It would also be justified to say that the city is currently the region’s hub for media, trade, and culture. The city also has adequate social and cultural amenities to serve all its residents and other people visiting it. The city, which is under city council management, can also be considered as one of the most multi-racial cities in the USA. Credible information from the US census bureau, the city has a household population of about 167310. As of 2017, the median household income stood at $44, 477 per year.

The two major industries in the city are manufacturing and healthcare. Collectively, the two industries employ about 41.6% of the cities total population. Local administration comes in as the third largest employer. Besides funding from the city council and the federal government, the city’s development can be greatly attributed to investors who have made large investments in the city. Due to the good working environment and investment-friendly government policies, the city has attracted a numerous number of young, productive investors to invest in the city. Although the city management and the federal government have implemented a number of policies that are friendly to development, they should look further into the public interest and introduce other policies that will boost the economy of the city (Neustadt and May, 2011). One of the policies that have sought to incorporate the city leadership and the general public in the City’s investment and development agenda is the Downtown Public Investment Policy. This policy opened a leeway for public transparency and inclusion of the members in the city’s investment and development projects. Since this policy was implemented in 2014, one would argue that public interest has really been looked into (Wheatley and Kellner-Rogers, 1998). Before the policy was implemented, most people argued that city government management focused so much on revenues and return on their investment while, to some extent, disregarding the public good.

Realistically, it would be difficult for a city to experience tremendous growth similar to the one experienced by Wichita if various key players do not take into account the public interest. Objective, one would describe public interest as a common concern amongst a certain region’s citizenry on matters related to politics, governance, and socio-economic welfare. Although the city’s elected officials have always been seen to be considerate of the public interest, there are several occasions where the city’s residents felt as if their interests were not being properly looked into. In such cases, the people in leadership always argue that the ordinary citizen cannot see the bigger picture. One of the issues that the people of Wichita have raised concern about is the fact that the collectable taxes in the city are higher than the US average. In an interview with a local TV channel, the mayor of Wichita, Jeff Longwell, said that the city needed the funds to keep the City growing. He went further to say that once the City investments breakeven; the high tax situation will be addressed. Although the mayor’s remarks made some economic sense, an ordinary may still feel like the administration is disregarding their interest and opinion on the matter. In the year 2014, the people of Wichita unanimously voted against a proposal to increase sales tax in the city with 1% (Kelsey, 2014). The proponents of the move, just like the mayor, argued that the government needed to collect taxes in order to fund its ongoing projects and to start up some new ones (Kelsey, 2014).

The political atmosphere, in and around Wichita, has had a tremendous impact on the development of the city. The city is popularly known for its conservatism in matters politics. With only a few influential political figures in the city, the political atmosphere has always been calm. The city has been acknowledged on several occasions for providing platforms for public participation on matters governance and development (Shafritz and Hyde, 2016). Over time, various political leaders have had their input in the city’s development history and in policy development. Although the interest of the political class in this city has not always aligned with those of the ordinary citizenry, one can commend the effort that the city leadership has always made to ensure that the public good is looked into (Neustadt and May, 2011). For instance, in the year 2000, the city’s elected officials declined a proposal to build the famous Intrust Bank Arena. Later on, in 2004, a few leaders, working on the interest of the city’s resident, proposed that the proposal is put on a ballot so that the resident of the county can decide whether they supported the $183,625,241 worth project. The majority of the voters voted in support of the project. This is further proof that the interest of the public does not always align with that of the ordinary citizens. In this case, elected leaders in 2000 turned down the proposal on the basis that the expenditure was too high (Lefler, 2014). However, the electorate proved that the benefits that come with the facility were worth more than the money that had been proposed to be invested in the project. Another drift between the interest of the public and that of the city officials was experienced in 2010 when the county official voted in favor of increasing sales tax charged at the Intrust bank arena. Although they had their reason, the public seemed a little aggrieved by the action which was decided by the city council officials only (Neustadt and May, 2011).

Politics affect various stakeholders involved in city development differently. For instance, with regard to the business community, when too much politics is brought into matters of development and investment, their business venture may not be as profitable as they anticipated. Looking into the case of Intrust Bank Arena, various political issues that have been raised over time have affected the profitability of the individual and corporates that have invested in the Arena (Lefler, 2014). A good example is the city council’s vote to hike income tax. The general public is also greatly affected by political interference in matters related to city investment and development. For instance, when the construction of the Intrust Bank Arena was put on hold for about three years, the members of the public missed out on various key amenities that the arena provided. Evidently, one would argue that too much politics may Delia the effort of developers to provide various services to the general public.


From the information provided in this paper, there is so much that can be learnt about regional development and how it is affected by politics and other administrative issues. The paper also gives adequate information to prove that as much as various administrative arms are in charge of policy development and implementation, the public interest is of great interest for socio-economic development and political stability. Basically, the paper, using the case of Wichita downtown, has highlighted various challenges that any developing city is expected to go through. It has also shed light on various ways through which any region can address various political and administrative issues that may hinder investment and development in any region. To sum it up good leadership and respect for the public interest are the key requirement for regional development.


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