October 28, 2016

America’s mayors don’t buy the rhetoric: Our cities are ‘thriving’

Here are three stories about innovation around the U.S. that will inspire you

Civic pride: Despite some harsh words being used to describe America’s cities of late, the country’s mayors beg to differ. In Politico‘s latest quarterly national Mayors’ Survey, 60 mayors from Dayton, Ohio, to Dallas reflected on recent census data showing a 7.3 percent rise in median incomes in cities and a 1.2 percent dip in the poverty rate overall in 2015. Fifty-five percent of the mayors surveyed said the census data is reflective of their city, and 68 percent said the rise in median income resonated the most with their city. The census data, released in September, showed some of the most positive gains since the 1960s, and mayors weren’t surprised. More than 70 percent cited their own cities’ downtown revitalization efforts as playing a role in that growth, and 75 percent said they feel more optimistic about the economy than six months ago. San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee said in the survey: “When I took office [in 2011], unemployment was near 10 percent. All I heard was, ‘Mayor, help me get a job!’ … By pairing economic growth with progressive values like minimum wage and affordable housing, our city is thriving.” Read the full report in Politico‘s “What Works” series on urban innovation.

Sunny outlook: Mayors aren’t the only group feeling optimistic about the economy. According to the latest PNC Economic Outlook Survey, small- and medium-sized business owners have positive feelings about the economy, with 71 percent responding they are optimistic about the national economy, the highest percentage in PNC’s fall survey since 2005. Of the 505 business owners interviewed, just over half (51 percent) expect their sales to increase during the next six months, but only 22 percent expect to hire new employees. The respondents are not happy with the presidential candidates, however, with 65 percent saying Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are not addressing the issues most important to them as business owners.

More than just the Great Outdoors: We wrote about Chattanooga, Tennessee, this summer when Outdoor Magazine named it Best Town in America. The city has a lot going for it besides its miles of mountain-biking trails and white water rafting. In a recent column for Technical.ly, Charles Wood of the Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce boasted of the city’s lightening-fast, taxpayer-owned broadband. Wood wrote that “gigabit network” provided Internet to all residents and businesses at 200 times the speed than the national average. Last year, the service was upgraded from 1 to 10 gigabytes per second. As a comparison, Time Warner Cable announced its fastest service this year at 300 megabytes per second. Wood argues that all of these assets—including its affordability—make Chattanooga a great place to start a business for companies looking beyond the typical tech hubs like Silicon Valley.

See a story that inspires you? Send it to The Renewal Project editor Margaret Myers at mmyers@atlanticmedia.com.

Margaret Myers

Margaret Myers

The Renewal Project editor