Small Cities

Florida's Interstate-Adjacent Fantasy

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As 2015 wanes, many swimming in Florida’s new wave of growth are still being carried by a swift current. Everywhere one gazes, new apartments can be seen that accommodate some of the million-plus new residents who have moved here in the last five years. With over 140,000 people migrating to Florida from other states during 2014, and over 100,000 people moving to Florida from other countries, Florida’s GDP is predicted to have grown 3.2% in 2015, the highest in the country and well ahead of the national average. The tide has definitely come in.

For natives and long-term residents, it feels like everyone up north woke up one Tuesday morning and said, “Hey honey, let’s quit our jobs, move to Florida, and get an apartment overlooking the interstate.” From Tampa to Daytona, mid-rise wood frame structures loom over semi-trucks and cars that whizz by, a new voyeur culture in the making.  read more »

Deindustrialization, Depopulation, and the Refugee Crisis

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The refugee crisis facing Western nations has begun to peak both demographically and politically.  The United Nations has reported that more than 6.5 million Syrians have fled to neighboring countries and Europe, and even nations that until recently welcomed refugees are frantically trying to change immigration policy or protect borders.  read more »

Low Hanging Fruit

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As a San Franciscan I get a lot of raised eyebrows when I mention that I recently bought property in Cincinnati. “Huh?” Then I walk them through it. Here’s the mom and pop business district along Hamilton Avenue in the Northside neighborhood during a recent Summer Streets event. This is a classic 1890’s Norman Rockwell Main Street with a hardware store, a Carnegie library, barbers, cafes, bars, funky little shops, and seriously good architectural bones.  read more »

More Local Decisions Usurped by Ideological Regulators

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In hip, and even not-so-hip, circles, markets, restaurants and cultural festivals across the country, local is in. Many embrace this ideal as an economic development tool, an environmental win and a form of resistance to ever-greater centralized big business control.

Yet when it comes to areas being able to choose their urban form and for people to cluster naturally – localism is now being constantly undermined by planners and their ideological allies, including some who superficially embrace the notion of localism.  read more »

Historic Districts: The Past or The Future?

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Preservation seems like an easy idea to support. Who would be against it? History, character, and a sense of place are what great communities are all about. They generate tourism and makes us all culturally richer. Landowners in historic districts even enjoy higher land values than nearby landowners in newer, usually blander developments. What’s not to like?

Apparently, a lot. Cities unilaterally impose ordinances from time to time, regulating building size, shape and use, and rarely are there complaints, although the changes affect everyone in the city.  read more »

The Cities Winning The Battle For Information Jobs 2015

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We are supposed to be moving rapidly into the “information era,” but the future, as science fiction author William Gibson suggested, is not “evenly distributed.” For most of the U.S., the boomlet in software, Internet publishing, search and other “disruptive” cyber companies has hardly been a windfall in terms of employment.  read more »

Small Regions Rising

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In the last 25 years there has been a huge change in the level of competitiveness of smaller urban areas – by which I mean the small end of the major urban scale, or metro areas of about one to three million people – that has put them in the game for people in residents in way they never were before.

I recently gave the morning keynote at the Mayor’s Development Roundtable in Oklahoma City and talked a bit about this phenomenon, as well as how these generally younger and sprawling areas ought to be thinking about their future.  read more »

Smaller Stars: The Best Small And Medium-Size Cities For Jobs 2015

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A look at job growth in America’s small and medium-size cities provides a very different, perhaps more intimate portrait of the ground-level economy across a wider swathe of the country than our survey last week of The Best Big Cities For Jobs. It takes us to many states that lack large cities, particularly in the Midwest and South.  read more »

The Uncelebrated Places Where America's Farm Economy Is Thriving

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We consume their products every day but economists give them little attention, and perhaps not enough respect. Yet America’s agriculture sector is not only the country’s oldest economic pillar but still a vital one, accounting for some 3.75 million jobs — not only in the fields, but in factories, laboratories and distribution. That compares to about 4.3 million jobs in the tech sector (which we analyzed last month here).  read more »

The Simulated City Vs The Urban Downtown

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While the city’s star is rising in popular literature, it has fallen in popular usage. Where have our sidewalks gone—and why is sidewalk activity disappearing?  read more »