Small Cities

Hamtramck: Scale and Institutional Frameworks

screen-shot-2017-12-08-at-9-12-55-pm.jpg

I recently published an article that explored some of the ways regulations make it difficult for small businesses to get off the ground and function. Among the examples I used from around the country was Bank Suey in Hamtramck, Michigan. My story was subsequently reposted on various other sites which the owner, Alissa Shelton, read and objected to. She felt I hadn’t accurately described her experience as a business owner and that I didn’t present her town in the right light.  read more »

Why Small, Struggling Cities Don’t Need “Talent”

hartford-insurtech-hub.jpg

I recently recorded a podcast with my colleague Steve Eide in which he argued against the idea that attracting high talented people into government is what was needed for smaller, post-industrial cities.  read more »

Subjects:

Trouble in Trump County, USA

092916_RAopioid_THUMB_LARGE.jpg

By rights, Scott County, a rural Indiana community of 24,000, should be flourishing. It’s in a pro-business state. It’s part of the large, successful 1.2 million-person Louisville, Kentucky, metro area that’s been growing total jobs (75,300, or 12.9 percent) and manufacturing positions (19,600, or 31.6 percent) in the last five years. Scott County is an easy half-hour commute from downtown Louisville.  read more »

Smaller American Cities Need to Focus on Private Sector Job Growth Downtown

salesforce-tower-indianapolis-1024x666.jpg

I’m back from a short break. While I was away my debut contribution to City Lab was published. In it I argue that the next frontier for smaller cities (meaning metros in the 1-3 million raise) in their downtown development efforts needs to be a focus on growing private sector jobs.  read more »

The Best Small and Medium-Size Cities For Jobs 2017

Overlook_of_Main_St._St._George.jpg

Much of the U.S. media tends to see smaller cities as backwaters, inevitably left behind as the “best and brightest” head to the country’s mega-regions. The new economy, insists the Washington Post, favors large cities for start-ups and new businesses. Richard Florida has posited the emergence of a “winner take all urbanism” that tends to favor the richest cities, such as New York and San Francisco.  read more »

America the Cheap

wal-mart.jpg

America is a price dominant culture, and we need to take responsibility for that when we complain about bad customer service, poor infrastructure, etc. Certainly American business and political leadership could be better, but they aren’t the ones who decided to shop at Wal-Mart instead of the local store (favoring short term financial gain over long term community loss). Nor are they the ones who force us to vote for politicians promising something for nothing.  read more »

Re-inhabitation of Small Town America

johnny-smalltowns.jpg

My friend Kirsten Dirksen at faircompanies.com recently posted a new video about Water Valley, Mississippi. It demonstrates that there are plenty of great compact mixed use walkable neighborhoods out there that can be re-inhabited. Building anything of this kind from scratch is theoretically possible, but it almost never happens due to endless zoning regulations, building codes, and cultural inertia. Water Valley is lucky in the sense that it’s just down the road from a prestigious university.  read more »

Caterpillar’s HQ Move to Chicago Shows America’s Double Divide

640px-Caterpillar_D350D.jpg

Earlier today Caterpillar announced that it was moving its corporate headquarters from Peoria to Chicago. The move affects about 300 top-level executives. The company will retain a large presence in Peoria.  read more »

Babes In Trumpland: The Coming Rise Of The Heartland Cities

Trump_Cedar_Rapids_(28631732735).jpg

Contrary to the media notion that Donald Trump's surprising electoral victory represented merely the actions of unwashed “deplorables," his winning margin was the outcome of rational thinking in those parts of the country whose economies revolve around the production of tangible goods.

And their economies stand to gather more steam in the years ahead.  read more »

How the Left and Right Can Learn to Love Localism: The Constitutional Cure for polarization

city-hall_0-1.jpg

The ever worsening polarization of American politics—demonstrated and accentuated by the Trump victory—is now an undeniable fact of our daily life. Yet rather than allowing the guilty national parties to continue indulging political brinkmanship, we should embrace a  strong, constitutional solution to accommodating our growing divide: a return to local control.  read more »