We’ve written on many occasions in the past about how the phrase ‘economic development’ means much more than trying to lure an Amazon — or an MGM Springfield, for that matter — to your town or filling a business park with distribution companies.
Indeed, this kind of work extends to such realms as workforce development, improving public education, public safety, infrastructure, marketing of a given region, and promotion of arts and culture.
And, sometimes, economic development is art itself.
We saw this with the recent initiative known as Fresh Paint. This was a mural festival staged earlier this month that involved a number of noted artists, with help from the public, and literally changed the face of a number of buildings and structures, such as parking-garage facades.
The murals are highly visible, and they do more than bring a splash of color — a big splash of color — to some otherwise drab pieces of real estate.
They also help tell the story of Springfield through depictions of everything from Dr. Seuss characters to the diverse population that now calls the city home.
How is this economic development?
Well, the murals accomplish something important. They prompt people to stop, look, think, and, ultimately, view Springfield in a different way than they did before. And this is what we want business owners, young professionals, entrepreneurs, and even retirees looking for a place to live to do — look at the City of Homes in a different way.
The murals — there are 10 of them in all, scattered throughout the downtown area and beyond — give the city a new look and vibe. They help send a message that the community is changing, for the better, and that, while once things were dark, the future is seemingly bright.
Can a set of murals really do all that? Apparently, they can.
And for that reason, we certainly hope this is not the last Fresh Paint festival.