Does Durango have what it takes to be named the “strongest city”? – The Herald of Durango

City enters competition that could win recognition and expert advice

One of the things that makes Durango a strong city is its local and local businesses, as opposed to national brands, said Bryce Bierman, a city planner. This keeps more money in the local economy. (BCI Media File)

Is Durango a strong city? May be. But is it the strongest? Durango’s planning department entered a contest to find out.

The Strongest City 2022 contest is underway and the city of Durango is one of 16 cities across the country vying for the title of Strongest City.

Strong Towns, the non-profit organization hosting the competition, operates across the United States and Canada and helps city planners and leaders develop their communities in ways that meet the needs of residents.

Bryce Bierman, a city planner from Durango, described the organization as a consulting firm that travels to cities across the country to help communities create thriving and resilient cities.

Bierman and his colleagues applied for the Strongest Town Contest thinking success was a bit long. After all, in a country with almost 19,500 incorporated cities, the competition for such a title must be tough. But Durango was chosen as one of 16 cities to be considered in the competition.

“We are certainly thrilled and proud of Durango for being the city that it is,” he said. “Obviously other people who are sort of experts in this are seeing that we’re doing certain things right.”

Bierman said the city is trying to show its strengths through competition. He added that a strong city is not perfect, but it is a city that is working to become a better place for the people who live there.

“I think that’s kind of the idea a lot of people have of Durango, and that’s why people come and live here too, can visit and decide maybe they want to stay,” he said. he declares.

To enter the competition, Bierman and his colleagues submitted a summary of Durango that answers questions about the city’s strengths and weaknesses.

Durango’s bid and city summary were submitted by Bierman, Mallory St. Pierre, Scott Shine, Mark Williams, Vicki Vandergrift, Dan Armentano, Savannah Lytle, Tommy Crosby and Eva Henson.

The summary says the nominees are proud of Durango as “a city striving to lead the way for our region.” Durango has a unique culture that is not present in surrounding rural communities due to the city being relatively isolated in the southwest corner of Colorado, the summary states.

The big challenge for the city this year, according to the candidates, is to maintain affordable housing for a rapidly growing population. Prior to COVID-19, housing stock was being lost in large quantities to short-term rentals and this problem has been compounded by the advent of remote working, according to the summary.

“People are no longer forced to live in large urban areas where jobs are physically located,” the summary states. “To address affordability, we created a new Housing Innovation Division and supported the rebirth of the County Housing Alliance. With new support staff and new resources, we now face an unprecedented level of development projects in our pipeline. »

The summary of Durango then illustrates the transportation scene of the city, describes its main economic factors, such as the tourism industry to stimulate the economy and its main employers, including Ska Brewing Co. and Steamworks Brewing Co. and the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railway.

The first round of the Strongest Town Contest pits Durango against Santa Clara, Calif., which describes itself as “one of the oldest towns in the San Francisco Bay Area” that lost much of its original identity during the demolitions of urban renewal projects 50 years ago.

If Durango wins the competition and wins Strongest Town’s 2022 title, he will receive a lot of recognition, Bierman said. In addition to bragging rights, Strong Towns founder and president Charles Marohn, author of the book of the same name, will personally travel to Durango to strategize with planners and leaders regarding Durango’s future. The consultation would be free, Bierman said.

Bierman believes the city’s support of local and local businesses is one aspect of what makes Durango a strong city. He said the city has done a good job of limiting national brands, which means more money generated by local businesses stays in the local economy.

“We think Durango is a really special place,” Bierman said. “You probably feel the same way if you live here.”

People are free to vote for who they think is the strongest city. The votes are weighted, Bierman said. Strong Town memberships count for 50% and votes from non-members or residents count for the remaining 50%.

Durango and Santa Clara summaries and the ability to vote are available at bit.ly/3sAzZMf.

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