According to a McKinsey & Company study, more than half the world’s inhabitants – 3.6 billion people – live in cities. The proportion is the highest in mankind’s history, and it is growing fast. The ways in which cities develop and cope with such rapid urbanization are of huge importance to its citizens. Cities are the main sources of economic growth and productivity. With that said, to make the most of the available resources, both human and financial, effective city leaders need to rigorously assess and manage expenses, explore private partnerships, introduce investment accountability, and embrace technology.
The formidable task of managing growing cities in ways that support and drive economic growth will help the public, social, and private sectors in making informed decisions about city and community development strategies, and to help build the skills to implement those strategies. This need for community revitalization is a primary reason we formed CiViC 180 as a non-profit – to help communities and cities grow their local business community, embrace technology and viral marketing, connect globally, build entrepreneurship and sustainable funding to drive business acquisition and retention.
This growth in city inhabitants begs the question – “How do you make a city great?”
Through analysis, case studies, and interviews, we all seek to learn what cities and their leaders do to make their cities great, their communities better places in which to live, work and establish a business. Our findings, as I am sure you have found, make it clear there is no single method. Research suggests that successful cities find a balance between three primary areas. Cities need to achieve smart growth, which means securing the best growth opportunities to ensure prosperity. They need to do more with less. And, they need to win support for change by delivering results swiftly. It is a simple process, but sometimes difficult to execute:
1. Make Planning an Inclusive Process – city and community audit
2. Improve existing infrastructure
3. Innovation – develop opportunities for all
4. Achieve smart growth – nurture the best opportunities
5. Do more with less – make the most of available resources and community partners
6. Embrace technology and viral marketing
7. Win support for change – craft a personal vision for the city
City and community leaders need to understand their tenure will be limited. When long-term plans are articulated – and gain popular support because of short-term success – leaders can start a virtuous cycle that sustains and encourages a great city environment. As I mentioned earlier, for a leader to make important strides in improving their cities must do three things really well:
1. They must achieve smart growth. Smart growth identifies and nurtures the very best opportunities for growth in the community, develops a plan to cope with its demands, integrate innovative thinking, and ensures all citizens enjoy a prosperous city. An important element is to think about regional growth because as a metropolis expands, you will need the cooperation of surrounding municipalities and regional service providers. Integrating a business environment into economic decision making is vital to smart growth: cities must invest in developing infrastructure to grow and attract emerging growth companies in building high-density communities.
2. You need to do more with less. To be a great city, you need to secure all revenues due, explore investment partnerships, embrace technology, make organizational changes that eliminate overlapping roles, and manage expenses. Successful leaders realize their weaknesses and bring talented consultants who can achieve immediate results. Smart leaders bring in consultants to help them understand, if they design and executed well, they can deliver on private-public partnerships that will be an essential element of smart growth, delivering lower-cost, and higher-quality economic infrastructure.
3. Winning support for change is essential. Every city needs to change, it scares the team and the board, which can slow the momentum and even attract opposition. It creates fear, uncertainty and doubt. Successful cities will build a high-performing team of civil servants and talented consultants, to create a working environment where everyone is accountable for their actions, and take every opportunity to forge a consensus with the local population and business community. Building consensus with the local population and the business community through transparency and two-way communications is key to defining the city’s vision. The first step is to recruit and retain top talent, emphasize collaboration, and train civil servants in the advantages of using technology.
Every city has different priorities. Those priorities will be shaped by their own passions and vision, and by their city’s needs. City leaders will find themselves at different starting points in their quest to make their cities great, so each will have a different mandate. Many will find a strong consulting group to complement their team to get results quickly in kick-starting economic growth and delivering results. CiViC 180 has stepped in and assisted communities in making a difference. Everything CiViC 180 does is driven by the deepest and most profound understanding of how businesses’ need to interact with the community.
A city willing to take these steps will achieve smart growth, do more with less, and win support for change – the three hallmarks of any journey on the road to greatness. It is a journey to our future that needs to begin today.