Small Cities

Immigrant Entrepreneurs Drive Main Street's Growth

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In cities and towns in all reaches of America, businesses started by immigrants are critical pieces of the fabric of our economy and communities.

My children attend a Montessori preschool started by an Indian immigrant. Like many, she did not come to this country to start a business. But after multiple college degrees in the U.S. and some years working in corporate America, she opened her first Montessori school. Nearly 15 years later, she owns two schools, employs 100 women, and touches the lives of hundreds of students each day.  read more »

Afterburn

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Here in California we’ve just received our first rain since last winter after another brutal round of massive forest fires. Our Mediterranean style climate cycles from a long dry hot period to a few short cool wet winter months. October is our most fire prone time of year. It’s hot, the earth is bone dry, the vegetation is brittle, and windstorms stir up fires like a giant hair dryer. Cyclical burns are part of the ecosystem here and are normal and necessary.  read more »

It's Organic! End of Conjecture and the Science Ahead

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A long succession of urban theorists, including Jane Jacobs, have intuited, implied, or proclaimed the “organic” nature of cities. This organic concept of cities describes them as self-organizing, complex systems that might appear messy, but that disorderliness belies a deep structure governed by fundamentally rule-bound processes.  read more »

Stop Overlooking the Richness of Rural Life

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From questions of upward mobility and opportunity to concerns about access to health care and education, rural America clearly isn’t perfect.  read more »

Where Salaries Go Furthest in 2019: The Small-City Advantage

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Big cities are the engines of the modern economy. They offer workers a range of opportunities — and employers a range of workers, customers, and infrastructure — that smaller places generally can’t match. But when it comes to what many job seekers care about most, smaller cities often are best. In particular, for most jobs, salaries are higher in smaller places after accounting for the cost of living. 
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A Blast from the Past in Charlotte and Columbus

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I saw a couple of recent reposts containing very interesting material from several decades ago in Charlotte and Columbus.

The first is a 25 minute TV special from the 1960s looking at a proposal to issue bonds to fund urban renewal in downtown Charlotte. A few things struck me about this.  read more »

The Stockton Sandwich

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I just spent a few days in Stockton, California visiting old family friends. They’re a recently retired Lutheran pastor and his wife who relocated from Southern California and returned to their hometown. Being lifelong members of the church has many benefits, but making lots of money isn’t one of them. They run a lean operation and found a modest three bedroom two bath fixer upper for $195,000 and proceeded to do almost all the renovation work themselves.  read more »

The Midwest’s Small Suburbs

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I’ve been examining data lately, revisiting a topic I’m mentioned in the past, namely the smaller sizes of suburbs in Midwest cities compared to other parts of the country. This applies to much of the US east of the Mississippi as well.

West of that river, there are a number of states and regions where there are large suburbs, some of them ranking among the largest municipalities in the country. For example, here are the ten largest suburbs of Dallas-Ft.Worth:  read more »

When it Comes to Road Diets, Small Businesses are the Biggest Losers

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Twenty-one businesses have closed in less than two years since the city of Los Angeles reconfigured a 0.8 stretch of Venice Boulevard in the west side’s Mar Vista neighborhood. The city replaced one of three traffic lanes in each direction with protected bike lanes, removed some street parking, and installed physical barriers. The project is called a “road diet” and it’s part of the city’s “Vision Zero” and “Complete Streets”  programs.  read more »

From Madera and Joplin to New York: Dispersed, Not Dense Urban Areas Dominate GDP

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For some time, the mainstream press and conventional urban planners have been obsessed with a “dense urban” narrative. This is largely a myth, as has been demonstrated by resurgent growth in suburbs and exurbs.  read more »