The State of the Cities in 2011


This is the first in a seven-part series about mayors’ 2011 State of the City speeches.

From our office in Washington, D.C., NLC staff address local issues on behalf of city leaders from across the country.  We think we know where city leaders’ heads are, but how do they actually view their cities’ progress?  And more importantly, how are they setting the tone for the coming year?  We thought it best to find out from the mayors themselves.

This year marks NLC’s second annual analysis of “State of the City” addresses.  Staff from NLC’s Center for Research and Innovation analyzed mayors’ speeches from 31 cities of all sizes spread geographically throughout the nation.  This analysis was neither exhaustive nor a statistically reliable cross-section of the state of cities in America.  Nevertheless, several common themes emerged, and mayors’ outlooks were overwhelmingly optimistic.

As a result of the analysis, we now know what themes mayors think are most important as they lead their cities in 2011.  They include government efficiency, sustainability, economic development, infrastructure, regionalism, and public safety.  Citiesspeak will be NLC staff’s platform for reporting on and discussing these common themes over the next several weeks.

Mayors are building upon past accomplishments, responding to previous years’ challenges, and drumming up enthusiasm for combating these challenges in 2011.  Through this series, we urge readers to learn from city leaders how best to reflect on local struggles and triumphs and move cities forward.

Read about this project in more detail in the March 7th issue of NLC’s Nation’s Cities Weekly, and don’t forget to check back on throughout the month of March for more discussion on the State of the Cities in 2011. Next up on March 7th: a look deeper in to the efficiency initiatives being undertaken by cities to cut costs and improve services.

Cities Included in the 2011 State of the Cities Project

Albuquerque, NM Charlotte, NC Louisville, KY Peoria, IL
Arlington, TX Claremore, OK Marion, IA Rochester, MN
Beaverton, OR Cleveland, TN Mesquite, TX Sacramento, CA
Boston, MA Columbia, SC Montgomery, AL Salt Lake City, UT
Bothell, WA Greenville, MS Morganton, NC Scottsdale, AZ
Bowie, MD Helena, MT Nampa, ID Syracuse, NY
Brighton, CO Kansas City, MO New York, NY West Palm Beach, FL
Caldwell, ID Lansing, MI Omaha, NE