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Johnson and Reardon: Health Investment for Cities, Nation Is Smart

Using tax incentives, we attracted the first new grocery stores to underserved areas of our county in nearly four decades. In addition, thanks to our new complete streets policy and additional federal funding we’ve received from Safe Routes to School, we’ve added new sidewalks and bike lanes along local roads.

Replicated on a national scale, these kinds of investments in health can yield significant dividends. Spending just $10 per person in programs aimed at smoking cessation, improved nutrition and better physical fitness could save the nation more than $16 billion a year, according to the Trust for America’s Health. The bottom line is that policies aimed at better health are a smart investment, regardless of where our counties rank.

As mayors, we can’t think of a better investment for a productive and vibrant community in which families and businesses can thrive. But we also know that we don’t have all the answers. The good news is there are innovative policies and programs being launched across the country. We’d like to hear what’s happening in your neck of the woods — to share your stories and swap ideas, please contact us at Ideas@countyhealthrankings.org. Together, we can start building a healthier, more productive America from coast to coast!

Chip Johnson is mayor of Hernando, Miss. Joe Reardon is mayor/CEO of the Unified Government of Wyandotte County/Kansas City, Kan.

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