Article City Forum Eva Spiegel

Tap Into Strong Cities
Strong State For Models of Economic Development

Eva Spiegel is director of communications for the League and can be reached at

Cities function as engines of economic development, and they are playing a significant role in helping California emerge from the Great Recession. City officials seeking new ideas about how to maximize their city’s economic development opportunities should take a look at the numerous examples provided by the Strong Cities | Strong State program.

The program, launched in September 2011, is a tremendous repository of innovation at the local level. Each participating city’s profile features a number of remarkable success stories. Because cities use different approaches to create vibrant communities for their residents and provide vital local services, the program represents an extraordinarily diverse range of projects.

The Strong Cities | Strong State website ( is easy to search. Selecting the “Cities” menu at the top of the home page makes it simple to view every city participating in the program. Two dropdown menus at the bottom of the home page make it possible to search by county or by category of success stories. Economic development is just one of 12 different categories, but it is the category with the greatest number of examples — more than 150 from every corner of California.

You can search for all economic development stories or narrow your search by county. This makes it possible to see not only what your colleagues in your own or neighboring county are doing but also what is happening throughout California. Many of these success stories serve as models that can be replicated and tailored to meet the specific needs of your community.

When you find a program that looks promising, another handy League resource is available to help you locate the city staffer most likely to have more information. The League’s 2013 City Hall Directory is published in early May and mailed to the city manager and city clerk in every city in California. Each city entry includes the names of key department heads and contact information.

The League began providing expanded coverage of city economic development success stories through its electronic newsletter CA Cities Advocate, starting last month. This new weekly series will run through the summer and showcase the ways in which cities innovate and thrive at the local level, often through partnerships with the state. It examines how cities have survived some of the toughest times by making key investments in infrastructure, affordable housing and effective land-use planning. These cities have been successful by leveraging local, state and federal resources to get the job done. The first three stories featured Claremont’s efforts to expand its downtown into the adjacent abandoned former citrus packing district; Livermore’s affordable housing policies; and Monrovia’s use of tax-increment financing to revitalize a once-blighted community.

If your city hasn’t been profiled yet on, it isn’t too late to join and showcase your city’s innovative initiatives and dedicated leadership. The project provides an easy way to share what is happening in your city with your colleagues and the public. To get started, contact your League regional public affairs manager who will lead you through the simple process. Visit to identify your region and find contact information for your regional public affairs manager.

This article appears in the May 2013 issue of Western City
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