Big Ideas for Small Cities

Big Ideas for Small Cities
Big Ideas for Small Cities


The Big Ideas for Small Cities series serves as a platform for small city officials to share compelling and creative ideas that they have used to drive change in their communities. These TEDx-style talks are meant to inspire local leaders to think "big" for their small cities.

What Is a Small City?

Traditionally, a "small city" is a city with a population of under 50,000.  As an organization that represents over 19,000 municipalities, the National League of Cities recognizes that these communities comprise the backbone of our country.

What Makes a Big Idea, Big?

With smaller budgets, part-time city staff, and a state and national focus on larger cities, America's small cities often face challenges that require unique and innovative solutions.  From converting vacant and abandoned buildings into industrial complexes and movie sets to partnering with private sector consultants to nurture small business development, city officials are thinking outside of the box to make real change happen.

In March of 2015, NLC University launched the Big Ideas for Small Cities series, drawing nearly 300 attendees.  Six small city mayors from all over the nation shared how they implemented creative programs to solve challenging problems.

In an effort to further our commitment to small cities, the National League of Cites  decided to continue the series every year at our City Summit Conference.

Explore past Big Ideas for Small Cities case studies and videos.