Akron Today Magazine covers all the communities surrounding Akron as well. This means when a smaller town makes national news, we want to talk about it just as much. Kent, Ohio is now in the final 16 of a competition for best strong towns. We did a quick email Q&A with Rachel Quednau, Communications Director of Strong Towns to find out more about the contest. If you live in the Akron area (especially you guys in Kent) go vote for Kent to help it win the strongest town in the country.
We received applications from representatives from towns in 22 states and two countries for this year’s contest. Strong Towns staff reviewed each application and selected the 16 that best aligned with our definition of a strong town.
Strong Towns is a national nonprofit that supports a model of development which allows America’s cities, towns and neighborhoods to become financially strong and resilient. We started this contest in 2016 as a way to capture the stories of towns that are working toward this goal and highlight them on our website.
As advocates for a strong America, we know the following to be true:
- Strong cities, towns and neighborhoods cannot happen without strong citizens (people who care).
- Local government is a platform for strong citizens to collaboratively build a prosperous place.
- Financial solvency is a prerequisite for long term prosperity.
- Land is the base resource from which community prosperity is built and sustained. It must not be squandered.
- A transportation system is a means of creating prosperity in a community, not an end unto itself.
- Job creation and economic growth are the results of a healthy local economy, not substitutes for one.
We are looking for towns that uphold these principles.
See Question #2. I’d also add that the contest is a way for us to share with our readers the many ways in which towns across the continent are working to grow more financially strong. We can learn from these examples and from the creative ways that communities are tackling their challenges.
One thing I’m noticing many smaller towns focus on is their downtowns. Communities are waking up to the reality that you cannot have a financially successful and attractive community without a healthy main street where businesses succeed and people want to spend time. Fortunately, most towns already have a historic core — albeit one that’s been neglected for decades in favor of edge developments like housing subdivisions and big box stores. But by making small investments in and focusing community energy on downtown, we’re seeing many communities experience the beginnings of a renaissance.
You can find all the information about the contest here: https://www.strongtowns.