Small Cities, Towns Show Their Strengths

By Becker, Christine | Nation's Cities Weekly, June 30, 2003 | Go to article overview

Small Cities, Towns Show Their Strengths


Becker, Christine, Nation's Cities Weekly


The leadership of the National League of Cities Small Cities Council last week called on the federal government to preserve the vital local-federal partnership that can help "keep America's small cities and towns healthy and prosperous for our generation and the next."

Small Cities Council Chair Brenda Barger, mayor of Watertown, S.D., and First Vice Chair Eddy Ford, mayor of Farragut, Tenn., issued the challenge last week in a press conference on the third annual National Small Cities and Towns Day. The press conference was held in the Redlin Arts Center in Watertown--a multi-million-dollar showcase for the work of artist Terry Redlin, a Watertown native.

"The word 'city' conjures up visions of skyscrapers and places like New York City, Chicago or Los Angeles," Barger said. "But the fact is, the vast majority of cities in the United States are small with less than 50,000 in population."

More than 150 cities and towns across the country joined the Small Cities Council in declaring June 20 National Small Cities and Towns Day to highlight the important role small cities play in American life and to call for a renewed local-federal partnership.

NLC President John DeStefano Jr., mayor of New Haven, Conn., marked the day with a special event in Derby, Conn., the state's smallest town with a population of 12,300.

"We encourage communities to acknowledge what is unique and authentic about them," DeStefano told a group of about 200 gathered on the Derby green for the event. "At the same time, cities and towns must look to develop partnerships with other communities and with the state and federal government as a source of strength."

In Watertown, members of the Small Cities Council Steering Committee--representing communities with populations from 3,000 to 36,000--participated in the press event as part of the committee's three-day working meeting.

Ford also called attention to a recent NLC study that shows that small cities are growing at a much faster rate than large cities--18.5 percent for cities under 50,000 compared to 9.1 percent for cities with populations of more than 175,000.

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