Hard hats and orange barrels seem to be everywhere you look in Kent these days.
Those may be signs of inconvenience to motorists, but they are harbingers of tax revenue for city officials.
Construction workers on projects in Kent pay income tax to the city. Throughout the next several years, several redevelopment projects, the new transit center, the ongoing Fairchild Avenue Bridge work, the Esplanade extension and other construction efforts are expected to bring an estimated $640,000 in income tax revenue to the city.
"For anyone doing construction work, the fact that all this building is going on in town is good news," said Lock Reynolds, a labor economics expert at Kent State University.
Reynolds said all the work in Kent has created a buffer for the city from the recent economic slow down taking place across the region and country, as indicated by the latest federal jobs report.
"Construction jobs are going strong here in Kent, for example, because there’s all this stuff being built, but with the housing market falling again … that is really hurting construction jobs across the economy," Reynolds said. "Overall, construction is not doing well."
Combined with the employment stability of Kent State, all the projects make Kent far from representative of the rest of the country from an economic standpoint, he said.
The anticipated boom in construction income tax revenue comes after 11 straight months of continued improvement in the city's income tax revenue compared with the past year.
"Last year was pretty dismal … but at least it’s trending in the right direction," Kent Budget and Finance Director Dave Coffee told Kent City Council members recently. "Our construction that we have going on in the city is certainly a significant contributor to that."