How can local officials help neighborhoods improve? Ideally, most Americans would desire to live and work in great neighborhoods with affordable housing, access to transportation, and a strong local economy. Smart Growth America, a non-profit organization designed to support healthy neighborhood development, is working to make this ideal a reality for communities across America. In addition to providing a wide range of free resources to support local communities such as free technical assistance workshops, Smart Growth America has recently introduced their new Local Leaders Council.
The Local Leaders Council is a coalition of local elected officials who share Smart Growth America’s vision of making America’s neighborhoods great. The Council consists of officials from varying backgrounds representing diverse communities across America each with different challenges. Despite regional differences, these leaders share the common vision of making their local community a great place to live with a strong economy that would create jobs and support local economic growth.
The Council had their first meeting on October 1st in Washington, D.C. to collaborate on their shared goals and discuss issues of policy, strategy, and management. The Local Leaders Council has an Advisory Board which consists of 22 local leaders. It is co-chaired by Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett and Cincinnati Mayor Mark Mallory. Unfortunately, Baltimore’s Mayor is not on the Advisory Board (at least not yet!). The Advisory Board will meet with Smart Growth America several times a year and is designed to provide ongoing support and guidance to the organization. The Board’s Co-Chair Mayor Mark Mallory summed up the Council’s challenges by saying, “The key to making our cities stronger is bringing more choices in transportation, housing and jobs to more people. And, we can do that by being more strategic in how we invest our limited resources. As the economy continues to improve, it is crucial that local leaders make smart decisions that will unlock the growth potential in our communities. The Local Leaders Council could be a game changer for cities across the country.”