What you don’t always hear during national news reports are the stories obscured by facts and figures — the journeys that city leaders have taken to bring their cities from recession to recovery.
We measure economic recovery through a series of numbers: jobs that are coming back, property values recovering, and how many families on food stamps. What you don’t always hear during national news reports are the stories obscured by facts and figures — the journeys that city leaders have taken to bring their cities from recession to recovery.
Every day, local leaders are tasked with finding solutions to their communities’ economic challenges, but it never stops there. The greater challenge is the long-term maintenance of economic stability in order to keep the streets paved, water safe, and sidewalks walkable. These are the details you don’t hear in reports of post-recession data. You don’t always hear about what it takes to bring a city into prosperity: the development of a bold vision, the multi-sector strategizing, the coming together of multiple sectors, and the capitalization on what makes a city unique.
Take the story of Chattanooga, Tennessee. A once-flourishing industrial city with a bustling downtown, the fourth largest city in Tennessee took a downturn in the 90s when manufacturing jobs left. The iconic narrative resembled so many others: the bustling downtown emptied and crime increased. The City, along with public and private sectors, acted boldly and swiftly, capitalizing on waterfront revitalization efforts to transform Chattanooga into a lively, diverse, walkable hotbed of entrepreneurship.
The National League of Cities has actively been seeking out such stories of economic resilience to share with city leaders everywhere, emphasizing the message that “cities are where things get done.” We searched across the country for stories of city leaders who thought creatively, collaboratively, and quickly. They’re not just inspirational tales; these are real solutions from communities who are concrete successes.