Small Cities

The Rise of the Great Plains: Regional Opportunity in the 21st Century

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This is the introduction to a new report on the future of the American Great Plains released today by Texas Tech University (TTU). The report was authored by Joel Kotkin; Delore Zimmerman, Mark Schill, and Matthew Leiphon of Praxis Strategy Group; and Kevin Mulligan of TTU. Visit TTU's page to download the full report, read the online version, or to check out the interactive online atlas of the region containing economic, demographic, and geographic data.

For much of the past century, the vast expanse known as the Great Plains has been largely written off as a bit player on the American stage. As the nation has urbanized, and turned increasingly into a service and technology-based economy, the semi-arid area between the Mississippi Valley and the Rockies has been described as little more than a mistaken misadventure best left undone.  read more »

Florida: When Your Best (Place) Just Ain't Good Enough

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Real estate broker Coldwell Banker handles corporate relocations for a large portion of our middle class. It recently released a survey of Suburbanite Best Places to Live. While it's easy to dismiss as a sales tool for their realtors, the survey provides a fascinating glimpse of middle class, suburban preferences, influenced by our current economy. Coldwell Banker’s top honors go to Cherry Hills Village, Colorado, a suburb of Denver.  read more »

The Rise of Telework and What it Means

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Teleworking (also known as telecommuting) has taken flight as a global trend. During July of 2002, European Union collectively decided on a shared framework agreement on telework, which regulates issues such as employment and working conditions, health and safety, training, and the collective rights of teleworkers. Following suit, the American the Telework Enhancement Act of 2010 served as a rallying call for federal agencies to encourage “work-at-home” employees.  read more »

Carmel, IN Named Best Small City in America to Live In But Can Others Follow?

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Money Magazine just named the Indianapolis suburb of Carmel as the top small city in America to live in. Fishers, another Indianapolis suburb, ranked #12.  read more »

Regionalism: Spreading the Fiscal Irresponsibility

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Stanley Kurtz's new book, Spreading the Wealth: How Obama is Robbing the Suburbs to Pay for the Cities describes political forces closely tied to President Obama who have pursued an agenda to "destroy" the suburbs for many years.  read more »

Form Follows Zoning

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When Louis Sullivan, purveyor of modern American high-rise architecture, said more than 100 years ago that ‘Form Follows Function’, he perhaps didn’t realize the extent to which building form would not be determined only by building type and the laws of physics, but by zoning laws, building safety codes, real estate developer balance sheets and even vocal neighborhood groups.  read more »

Public School Parent Trigger Laws: Something’s Gotta Give

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In the mid-1950s, the McGuire Sisters’ version of Johnny Mercer’s song about what happens when an irresistible force meets an immovable object made it to number five on the record charts. Their prediction, that “Something’s Gotta Give,” provides an apt description of the outcome of today’s battle between the parents of Millennials who want more say in their children’s education and the teacher unions and school district administrators who refuse to give up a smidgeon of control over the public schools they run.  read more »

The New Geography Of Success In The U.S. And The Trap Of The 'New Normal'

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This year’s presidential election is fast becoming an ode to diminished expectations. Neither candidate is advancing a reasonable refutation of the conventional wisdom that America is in the grips of a “new normal” — an era of low growth, persistently high unemployment and less upward mobility, particularly for the working class.  read more »

CNU20: New Urbanism's Young Adult Angst

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Possibly the most earnest folks in the real estate development industry assembled for the 20th anniversary of the founding of the Congress of the New Urbanism in West Palm Beach, Florida this month. Among the excellent accomplishments of CNU20 attendees: a credible car/pedestrian strategy, some fine looking new communities, and perhaps best of all, a body of hard-won knowledge about town-making for citizen education.  read more »

Homebuilding Recovery: A Zoning & Planning Overhaul

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Part III of the Recovery Blueprint for homebuilding. Defining good zoning and good planning, and a look at how social engineering plays in.

What exactly is ‘planning’?

It can be government creation of an Interstate Highway, or a city council vote on a new park. For the purposes of this blueprint, planning refers to the design of a new land development or a design for redevelopment. In both cases, the land plan is the developer's business plan. The design will either be positive or negative for the sustainability — long-term health — of the city.  read more »