Small Cities

The Unbearable Sameness of Cities

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The person who sent me Orianna Schwindt’s New York magazine piece on the “unbearable sameness of cities” asked if I had written it under a pen name. Indeed, she hits so many of my themes about American cities:  read more »

Northern Cities Need to Ramp It Up on Attraction

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The Economist just ran a nice article on “the flourishing Midwest.” Milwaukee in particular gets singled out for some favorable coverage, so congratulations to them.

Many Midwest cities have been doing well. Even the ones with poor headline numbers like Cleveland are seeing areas of strength when you look at a finer grained level. Some of the declines Midwest locations are experiencing are a result of the overhang of previous decline. Change and restructuring is happening in many places.  read more »

The Great Re-homing: Why People Are Moving Back To Their Hometowns To Start Small Businesses

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I have my gas station diet down pat. Coffee, water, bananas, nuts, hard-boiled eggs, and the occasional peanut butter cup indulgence. Ok, sometimes I also eat beef jerky. You have to learn these things when you spend 10,000 miles on the road talking to small business owners for a podcast.  read more »

Restoring Localism

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Americans are increasingly prisoners of ideology, and our society is paying the price. We are divided along partisan lines to an extent that some are calling it a “soft civil war.” In the end, this benefits only ideological warriors and their funders.  read more »

Louisville’s Urban Bourbon Movement

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As a spirt, bourbon is heavily associated with the state of Kentucky. But while major spirits firm Brown-Forman is located in Louisville, traditionally bourbon was distilled in rural – and ironically, dry – counties like, say, Bourbon County.  read more »

Partners in Transit: Agencies team up with Lyft, Uber

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Many public transit agencies are struggling to sustain lightly-used routes as passenger traffic dips in response to relatively cheap automobile fill-ups, a rise in work-from-home lifestyles, and the growing popularity of transportation network companies (TNCs), such as Lyft and Uber. The brunt of the decline has been sharpest in small and mid-size communities, where some bus services are infrequent, follow meandering routes, and stop running after peak hours.  read more »

Millennials Reinvent Localism in Their Search for Community

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It’s common knowledge that millennials long for "community." What’s less understood is the concrete expression of that longing in cities and suburbs across America, especially now that the older tier of millennials between ages 28 and 34 are buying homes, starting companies, running for office, and throwing around their consumer weight.  read more »

Iowa’s Next Election: Bridging the Urban-Rural and Class Divide

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My home state of Iowa famously gave Barack Obama a convincing victory in the Democratic caucuses in 2008, the first triumph that launched a young U.S. senator from Illinois to become the first African-American president. Obama ultimately won two terms, and each time Iowans favored him by considerable margins. Iowa was also one of several Midwestern states that famously flipped to support Donald Trump in 2016.  read more »

Growth In America Is Tilting To Smaller Cities

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We are often told that America’s future lies in our big cities. That may no longer be entirely true. Some of the strongest job creation and population growth is now occurring in cities of 1 million people or less.  read more »

World Megacity Growth Lags – Smaller Cities Grow More

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Never in history have so many people lived in urban areas (that is, outside rural areas). There are now 37 megacities (urban areas with more than 10 million residents) in the world, according to the 14th Annual Demographia World Urban Areas. This represents a substantial increase over the past century. But most urban growth, contrary to popular belief, is not taking place in megacities but in large urban areas that have not achieved megacity status.  read more »