CivicCon launches with a look at good growth in cities

Charles Marohn

Hear Marohn in “Is Pensacola a Strong Town?” on Sept. 26 at the Pensacola Little Theatre, 400 S. Jefferson St., in Pensacola. Doors open at 5:30 p.m. and the presentation begins at 6 p.m. You can register here.

Studer Community Institute wants to bring the best minds in how to make a city a great place to live together and learn from them.

That’s the idea behind a new effort by SCI in partnership with the Pensacola News Journal called CivicCon.

CivicCon is a speaker series that begins Sept. 26. CivicCon will highlight thought leaders and compelling speakers on a series of topics meant to improve planning, prosperity and quality of life in Pensacola.

Improving the quality of life is at the heart of the Studer Community Institute’s mission and work in leadership and business skill development and early learning education and outreach.

Charles Marohn, a civil engineer, is the president and co-founder of Strong Towns, a nonprofit that encourages citizens, developers and cities to rethink the way their communities grow.

Hear Marohn in “Is Pensacola a Strong Town?” on Sept. 26 at the Pensacola Little Theatre, 400 S. Jefferson St., in Pensacola. Doors open at 5:30 p.m. and the presentation begins at 6 p.m. You can register here.

Marohn told the Pensacola News Journal:

“A strong town is one that is financially strong and healthy enough to take care of itself,” Marohn said. “Able to take care of its streets, the ability to employ police officers and firefighters and all the public safety people. If you don’t need help or assistance from somebody else, you’re a strong town.”

Since World War I, local governments have been courting families, big box retailers, manufacturing and technological industries to come set up shop in their towns. The government promises to take on long-term responsibility of servicing and maintaining all the necessary new infrastructure, and in return the city sees revenue from permits, utility fees, property taxes and sales taxes.

It appears to be a good trade-off in the short term, but in the long term over a large scale the exchange almost never pays off for municipalities.

A few decades in, municipalities almost universally find themselves with miles upon miles of eroding streets, pipes and bridges and not enough money in the coffers to take care of them all.

“What we find is we have way more liabilities than we have tax base,” Marohn said.

According to Strong Towns website, the nonprofit group advocates for growth that is focused on small wins and incremental growth as a strategy to build and sustain municipal growth.

We publish daily written content, weekly podcasts, and interactive webcasts to keep you asking hard questions, and show you some outstanding examples of people who have gotten it right. We bring live, community-specific events to towns across North America. And we foster an online community where Strong Towns members can organize, share resources, and keep inspiring one another to do more.

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