The Star Herald
Have you ever wondered what outsiders thought of the City of Kosciusko?
Well, you don’t have to wonder any more.
The Kosciusko-Attala Development Corporation contacted the John C. Stennis Institute of Government and Community Development about doing their First Impressions study on Kosciusko.
During the summer a representative of the program presented a quick overview of the results at the Mary Ricks Thornton Cultural Center in June. A formal report on the finds was sent to the KADC recently.
Volunteers for the project were from Sardis, Houlka and Starkville and visited Kosciusko by way of Highway 12 a little less than a year ago.
Quick five-minute impression
The report said visitors were pleasantly surprised with what they saw. They commented that the town has some attractive assets such as the county courthouse, the downtown area and many historic homes.
Also, of note, was that the Kosciusko City School District was a source of pride and provided an important identity to the town.
One visitor commented: “Basted upon the ‘five-minute’ impression, I felt that my initial perception was correct. Kosciusko did seem like a sleepy little town. There were many assets to the community, but there was nothing to direct a visitor to these important points.”
Several commented on the “quaint and appealing style” of the Downtown area.
Visitors, according to the findings, had positive impressions of Kosciusko’s Downtown.
A study participant said, “Downtown Kosciusko has the potential to become a more dominant area for shopping. A community-wide marketing campaign is needed for the downtown area. If implemented, it would help the downtown area to draw more visitors and a constant flow of residents.”
Findings indicate that Highway 12 “appears to house a majority of the commercial development outside the downtown area in Kosciusko.”
– “The Hwy. 12 area could be a draw to the community if it was cleaned up more and made to appear safer.
–”Little if any landscaping is used within the parking lots and between the streets and parking lots to shield vehicles and ‘soften’ the image of the area.”
–”A short-term beautification project for the corridor could include breaking up the parking lots with landscape buffer and delineating driveways for the business. This also would allow for the addition of sidewalks along the corridor. some of the older, dated, and/or vacant buildings could be renovated with a more modern facelift.”
In addition to the business aspect of the city, they also took note of hospital, school system and residential areas.
Some of the recommendations:
–Community Development – conduct a citizen satisfaction survey. These surveys allow for local officials and community leaders to have a better understanding of the needs, issues, and desires of the citizens they represent.
– Develop a community action team – Put together a community action team with broad representation from community stakeholders (businesses, industry, county and city government, civic organizations, and the Stennis Institute).
– Downtown Revitalization – Begin Placemaking Approach. Consider a “placemaking” rather than a project oriented approach to downtown improvement. Four key attributes are central to a place-based approach to creating a vibrant downtown: 1. appearance and comfort, 2. access and linkages to other places, 3. the degree of sociability, and 4. the uses and activities that attract people to each of the key places and how these activities work together to support adjacent buildings and commercial uses.
Conduct downtown assessment survey – Conduct a survey of businesses owners, residents, and customers in the downtown to identify unique needs regarding this area. Also, conducting a business inventory and tracking residents’ and visitors’ purchasing patterns will help determine what goods and services are available locally, what is purchased locally, and what is purchased elsewhere.
– Identify beautification projects – Search out opportunities to maintain and enhance the small-town atmosphere of Kosciusko through beautification projects that might include the creation of small green spaces in the unused, striped off portions of the downtown area.
For a complete report, call the KADC at 289-2981.
Develop Business Directory. If not already developed, consider developing a simple business directory for the city of Kosciusko and have this information available at local businesses and the library.
Develop Directional signage. Little or no signage exists for schools, public parks, historic sites, and other community assets of interest to visitors. A number of cross-walks in the immediate downtown area were identified and positive marks are given for this. However, consider adding more adequate standard signage to warn motorists that there are crosswalks ahead.
Market Kosciusko. Define, develop, and market a unique identity for the City of Kosciusko. A small town can strengthen its local economy by identifying the aspects of the community that make the place unique and then capitalizing on them. The uniqueness of a place contributes to its competitive edge, known in marketing as a differential edge. There is a substantial amount of traffic passing by Kosciusko and successfully communicating the uniqueness of Kosciusko could be the defining factor in whether or not travelers decide to stop and spend some time and money in the community.