NLC Report Shows Economic Development Is Still Top City Concern

June 7, 2018 | By Jerry Ashworth | Post a Comment

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new-york-views-1-1225931Talk about consistency! Mayors nationwide deliver seminal addresses in which they detail their vision for the city’s future. The National League of Cities (NLC) recently released its “State of the Cities 2018” report, an annual report accessing top issues that mayors discuss in these seminal addresses, and for the fifth year straight, economic development emerged as the top area of concern.

According to the report, economic development was discussed at length in speeches by 58 percent of the mayors reviewed. Core issues like jobs, business attraction and retention, and neighborhood vitalization were prevalent topics in these speeches. Among the subtopics in this category, downtown development was the top concern, followed by arts and culture, neighborhood revitalization, jobs, and business attraction and retention. “These strategies are found not only in speeches of larger city mayors, but smaller city ones as well,” the report notes.

Public safety was the second highest issue in the 2017 State of the Cities report, but it was overtaken by three other topics in the 2018 report — infrastructure, budgets and management and housing. Infrastructure rose to the number two spot as many mayors discussed the need for better roads, streets and signs, which was a major concern for mayors of cities with populations under 50,000.

The budgets and management issue rose to third place this year as more mayors address the need for more intergovernmental relationships (i.e., their relationship with the state and federal government). “Nearly one in three mayors talk about intergovernmental relations, with specific comments about constraints imposed on them by higher levels of government that impact their ability to solve local problems,” the report explains.

Rounding out the list of top 10 topics in the report were public safety, health and human services, education, energy and environment, government data and technology, and demographics. The report also points out emerging trends and new issues coming out of the mayor’s speeches. Three growing topics of discussion in the 2018 report are opioids, broadband access and climate change. “The concept of city government is a great American experiment wisely built on a federal structure,” the report concludes. “For this structure to work best, we need to all work together — cities, state governments and federal government. We must all come together to govern.” We agree, and we’ll be interested to see what the 2019 State of the Cities report eventually shows.

Let us know your reaction to this report and how you think it will affect grant funding.

As a reminder, we have all of our Federal Funding Training Forums scheduled for 2018. Please let me know if you have questions or can make any of these. We hope to see you there!

  • Wednesday July 25 – Friday July 27 in MINNEAPOLIS

  • Wednesday October 17 – Friday October 19 in ATLANTA


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