What would you do if you had over $300 million in infrastructure backlog? That’s exactly the situation that the City of Kannapolis, North Carolina, fell into in recent years. With a population of more than 55,000, addressing the three asset groups of water, sewer, and pavement was crucial in continuing the development of the former textile-manufacturing community.
For years, Kannapolis has committed to a proactive approach to managing its infrastructure. With the assistance of WithersRavenel, the City was able to build an asset management framework that laid the groundwork for future prosperity.
Located north of the Queen City of Charlotte, Kannapolis is a quaint city that embraces its past and revels in its future. The community boasts its southern charm and the unique geographic intersection between the mountains and the beaches as some of the many reasons to call it home. However, Kannapolis’ history is deeply rooted in blue-collar work, where textile manufacturing reigned supreme throughout the 20th century.
In 1906, the Cannon Mill began its production of towels and linens within the City. It was the City’s primary employer, and housing, infrastructure, recreation, and other services revolved around the mill. As time progressed, Kannapolis grew alongside the textile industry and their identities became synonymous with one another.
Despite the longstanding success of the mills in Kannapolis, the early 2000s saw a drastic change. Mill manufacturing stopped, and residents migrated elsewhere for employment opportunities. As a result, the City’s downtown, stores, restaurants, and other entities faced a sharp decline in business. However, Kannapolis’ hard-working spirit was never broken. The City began its revitalization in the 2010s and has continued redeveloping its identity, opportunities, and community into the early 2020s.
Yet without knowing the state of their assets, Kannapolis’ City Council would have never been able to secure funding and allocate budgetary resources to new projects and improvements to the local infrastructure. In collaboration with WithersRavenel, the City built a framework to prioritize needs for the community’s future.
Lifecycle Planning provides asset modeling for communities undergoing infrastructure changes. It is like having a crystal ball to see how the decisions you make today will impact the future. Through this process, WithersRavenel can show clients, like Kannapolis, when and where their infrastructure is likely to fail. From there, our experts work with these communities to develop a roadmap that aims to stop these failures from occurring in the first place.
As was the case with Kannapolis, WithersRavenel’s Funding & Asset Management team began the lifecycle modeling process by collecting information on the community’s assets. For Kannapolis, this was mostly within their work order system and GIS. The data that WithersRavenel and Kannapolis collected included information such as asset age, the expected lifespan of assets, and various costs.
Once the data was gathered, our team constructed a lifecycle model that included treatments and actions that could be taken to extend the life of an asset or reduce maintenance costs.
Model & Results
The models provided to the City included the cost of treatment and criteria for triggering these events, such as age, criticality, or condition. We then assembled the budget information for the City’s assets. In many instances, the budget for a community like Kannapolis could come from a variety of sources, such as capital or operating budgets, or grant funding.
Lastly, we worked collaboratively to compare multiple long-term investment and funding strategies for the City’s future. Early conversations that took place between WithersRavenel and the City focused on aligning levels of service to better understand the needed investment. Through these discussions, a menu of service levels and corresponding investment requirements helped frame the conversation so that the optimal path could be taken by Kannapolis.
From the Client
The partnership with the City of Kannapolis and WithersRavenel has been extremely beneficial regarding the use of lifecycle planning services for long-term system planning. This service has been a cost-effective approach to get a true measure of our infrastructure needs and develop our funding strategy over the next several years. I am personally impressed with the ability of WithersRavenel to deliver such a quality product and an affordable price. We are excited to use this program as our planning strategy for the years to come.” – Wilmer Melton, Assistant City Manager, City of Kannapolis
The City of Kannapolis is not alone in its story and infrastructure-related challenges. Across the country, communities are looking for ways to maximize their budgets to satisfy residents while improving the assets within the area. The results of lifecycle planning are powerful tools for informing decisions, prioritizing work, and aligning stakeholders around a common vision.
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