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Ron Littlefield  |  Senior Fellow

Email : ron.littlefield@gmail.com Twitter : http://twitter.com/ronmayor

Ron Littlefield, a former mayor of Chattanooga, Tenn., is a senior fellow with the Governing Institute and its lead analyst on the City Accelerator initiative.  A city planner by career, he also consults to government through Littlefield Associates.

Before being elected mayor, he served on the Chattanooga city council, including two terms as chairman. His entry into politics was in 1987, when he was elected commissioner of public works for Chattanooga. He also served as the city's director of economic development and with the Tennessee State Planning Commission.

Professionally credentialed as a member the American Institute of Certified Planners, he is a 1968 graduate of Auburn University with a degree of business.

Innovation Perspectives

Reflections on Innovation

Some observations after nearly four years of reporting on the City Accelerator

June 27, 2017
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Innovation Perspectives

The Perils of Procurement

Why things are not so simple in the world of government purchasing

June 20, 2017
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Innovation Perspectives

The Transformation from Convict to Councilwoman

The story of Demetrus Coonrod reinforces the efforts of Baltimore to engage citizens returning from incarceration.

June 13, 2017
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Innovation Perspectives

Civic Engagement Success

We revisit Atlanta’s efforts to include its low-income residents in a major capitol redevelopment project.

June 9, 2017
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Innovation Perspectives

Innovation Stands the Test of Time

A look back at the three cities that started it all reveals ideas worth stealing and replicating.

May 26, 2017
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Innovation Perspectives

Moving Forward Without the Feds

The infrastructure finance cohort convening in Washington, D.C., proved that local ingenuity combined with the right partners can push projects ahead.

May 18, 2017
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Innovation Perspectives

How Roanoke Rocks Civic Engagement

The city proves that a “one-man show” mixed with a little creativity and innovation is sometimes all it takes to connect with the public.

May 8, 2017
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Innovation Perspectives

Pittsburgh Steps Up

How the city turned adversity into advantage to help tackle a unique infrastructure challenge

May 2, 2017
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Innovation Perspectives

Improving Water Quality Doesn’t Have to Wash Away Budgets

Saint Paul’s “shared and stacked” approach ensures its stormwater management projects reap multiple benefits for the community.

April 25, 2017
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Innovation Perspectives

Bringing It Home

Even communities far away can face familiar challenges and offer replicable solutions.

April 18, 2017
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Innovation Perspectives

Living in an Age of ‘What Ifs’

Cities in the infrastructure cohort get ready to reconvene to find innovative answers to pressing questions

April 11, 2017
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Innovation Perspectives

What Does President Trump Mean for Our Nation's Infrastructure?

The infamous Wollman Rink project might provide a clue.

January 23, 2017
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News

Tearing Down the 'Town and Gown' Divide

Relationships with academia are important in Baltimore's and Atlanta's City Accelerator programs.

November 22, 2016
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Innovation Perspectives

New Ways of Thinking in Nashville

A special (but simple) bus pass helps homeless population get to shelter in extreme weather.

October 12, 2016
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Innovation Perspectives

Reading Beyond the Headline: Why Seattle’s Ideas Are Worth Stealing

Mayor Murray ups the ante on inclusive citizen engagement -- and helps pave the way for the rest of us.

September 6, 2016
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Innovation Perspectives

Broadband Equity Defines the Future of Communities

High-speed connectivity is no longer negotiable.

August 18, 2016
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Innovation Perspectives

Is Keeping Innovation Going the Real Challenge?

The City Accelerator's Cohort I cities are meeting this week to discuss their progress, challenges and how they can sustain their momentum.

July 18, 2016
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Innovation Perspectives

A Primer on Financing Infrastructure

Most city leaders are grappling with an important question: How do we pay for critical infrastructure improvements?

June 30, 2016
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Innovation Perspectives

Infrastructure: A Problem That Must Be Solved

Lessons on taking the long view from former U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.

June 7, 2016
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News

Philadelphia’s Common Sense Approach to Helping the Working Poor

Can changing how you address an envelope improve communication with your constituents? Philadelphia aimed to find out.

May 24, 2016
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Innovation Perspectives

Why Time Doesn’t Always Heal

A critical issue 25 years ago, our nation’s infrastructure remains in the same deteriorating state today.

April 27, 2016
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Innovation Perspectives

The Fast and Fleeting Nature of the Digital Economy

When your city invests in technology, make the most of it -- and quickly. Today's new idea is tomorrow's old hat.

April 6, 2015
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Innovation Perspectives

The Road Ahead Is in Need of Repair

The future of our nation's infrastructure requires an innovation intervention.

March 29, 2016
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Innovation Perspectives

6 Questions About Financing Infrastructure, Answered

Jennifer Mayer, leader of the City Accelerator’s cohort on financing municipal infrastructure, talks about her favorite projects, the Flint water crisis and more.

March 7, 2016
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Innovation Perspectives

Let's Build Something Together: An Aspirational Infrastructure Tour of 5 Cities

Financing public improvements isn't easy -- but nothing is more important for cities to prosper.

February 25, 2016
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Innovation Perspectives

In New Orleans, a Health Plan for the Poor Comes Together

Hurricane Katrina destroyed “Big Charity,” but the Big Easy has something better.

February 8, 2016
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Innovation Perspectives

Change in Local Government: Moving Beyond Good Intentions

Programs to help the poor mean nothing if they don't work.

January 28, 2016
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Innovation Perspectives

Rewriting the Rules of Public Engagement

Public meetings can be like purgatory. Cities are showing us there’s a better way.

January 20, 2016
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Innovation Perspectives

A Philanthropic Nudge for Civic Innovation

Cities are doing it for themselves but not by themselves.

January 11, 2016
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Innovation Perspectives

Crisis Meets Opportunity in Baltimore

Looking to curb violence, city leaders are charting a path for incarcerated people to successfully re-enter society.

November 12, 2015
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Innovation Perspectives

Cities Marked by Devastation Rise Again

New Orleans and Detroit have little in common -- except their ability to persevere.

November 2, 2015
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Innovation Perspectives

Economic Equality: A Nobel-Worthy Idea But a Long Way to Go

Angus Deaton's Nobel prize-winning work is inspiring, but will it solve poverty?

October 26, 2015
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Innovation Perspectives

Being Local in an Interdependent World

Regional planning shows communities can be better, together.

October 19, 2015
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Innovation Perspectives

Haunted by the Eternal Digital Record

The court of public opinion is ever-more swift and damning.

October 12, 2015
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Innovation Perspectives

Taking the Long View

Civic innovation and investment will undoubtedly bring challenges and criticisms, but leaders are wise to stay the course.

October 5, 2015
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Innovation Perspectives

And Divided We Fall

To prosper, cities must address their neighborhoods of neglect -- where poverty, unemployment and failing education is the status quo.

September 28, 2015
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Innovation Perspectives

Lessons From One of America’s Most Inventive Cities

Seattle has a history of being a magnet for both entrepreneurial success and creative thinkers. What can we learn from it?

September 21, 2015
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Innovation Perspectives

Albuquerque’s Driver for Economic Growth: Untapped Citizen Potential

New Mexico’s biggest city is supporting immigrant and indigenous populations in their business endeavors.

September 8, 2015
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Innovation Perspectives

10 Years After Katrina, New Orleans’ Spirit Inspires

The disaster permanently altered lives, but the city continues to find innovative ways to rebuild.

September 1, 2015
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Innovation Perspectives

A Year in the Life of the City Accelerator

It's time for a recap and review of this philanthropic, collaborative startup that has put down roots in eight cities so far.

August 25, 2015
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Innovation Perspectives

The Electrifying Rhetoric of Election Season -- Or, the Trump Effect

Politics is a messy business, but fierce competition can fuel innovation.

August 18, 2015
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Innovation Perspectives

Mayors Come and Go, But Good Ideas Should Stick

Upcoming elections will test the sustainability of mayors’ innovation initiatives.

August 11, 2015
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Innovation Perspectives

Finding Answers to Housing Affordability Over Coffee

We have energetic citizens who want to help solve problems -- we just have to listen.

July 28, 2015
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Innovation Perspectives

311: A New Use for a Not-So-New Tool

Sometimes engaging citizens is as simple as solving their problems.

July 21, 2015
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Innovation Perspectives

If Civic Engagement Is Boring, You're Probably Doing It Wrong

History can provide some lessons in making it actually engaging.

July 14, 2015
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Innovation Perspectives

4 Important Lessons From 40 Years of Civic Engagement

It doesn't have to be a hellish public process.

July 7, 2015
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Innovation Perspectives

Can Cities Learn a Civic Engagement Lesson From the ‘Ice Bucket Challenge’?

Passionate public participation -- combined with technology -- can be powerful

June 29, 2015
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Innovation Perspectives

Bringing Back ‘Baltimore is Best!’

No stranger to hard times, Baltimore looks to new ideas to rise from the ashes.

June 22, 2015
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Innovation Perspectives

The Next Experiment in Urban Planning: Inclusive Engagement

Seattle is tapping technology to reach previously unheard from -- and often culturally diverse -- citizens.

June 15, 2015
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Innovation Perspectives

From Popsicles to Pop Music: Albuquerque Bets on Small-Scale Entrepreneurs

Supporting diverse businesses is the cornerstone of the city’s plan to spark economic mobility.

June 8, 2015
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Innovation Perspectives

A Laboratory for Social Change

After being devastated by Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans is creating a more effective, equitable health system and reinvigorating all segments of its community.

June 1, 2015
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Innovation Perspectives

Building on a Proud History of City Planning and Civic Engagement

Atlanta faces the dynamics of development head on as one of the cities chosen in City Accelerator’s Cohort 2.

May 26, 2015
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Innovation Perspectives

From Civic Engagement to Meaningful Engagement

City Accelerator’s Cohort 2 cities embark on their journeys to improve their citizens' quality of life.

May 19, 2015
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Innovation Perspectives

The Role of Whimsy and the Rise of the Data Geek

Nashville's co-chief innovation officer on the city's key takeaways from the City Accelerator.

May 11, 2015
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Innovation Perspectives

A Spotlight on Nashville's Serendipity Practice

City leaders spark innovation in creative ways in this country music community.

May 4, 2015
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Innovation Perspectives

Understanding the Timing and Rhythm of Innovation

As a city with a big history, Louisville is building on its achievements to diminish the debilitating remnants of poverty in its community.

April 27, 2015
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Innovation Perspectives

Want to Help People in Poverty? Meet Them Where They Are

To be successful in reaching the poor, common-sense communication often prevails.

April 21, 2015
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Innovation Perspectives

Why Trauma-Informed Housing Is Key to Solving Homelessness

“Housing First” initiatives can fall short if other resources aren't in place for individuals suffering from complex problems.

April 14, 2015
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Innovation Perspectives

From the Big (and Small) Screen to Real Life

New Orleans, Los Angeles and Albuquerque are writing their own stories to improve citizens' lives.

April 2, 2015
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Innovation Perspectives

Historic Cities Rally to Become Centers of Innovation

Watch and review cities’ plans to inspire citizen participation.

March 30, 2015
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Innovation Perspectives

How Minneapolis and Seattle Hope to Be Places of Opportunity for All

Watch and review both cities' plans to increase citizen involvement and decrease income inequality through the City Accelerator.

March 23, 2015
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Innovation Perspectives

Civic Engagement Expected to Shine in Round 2 of City Accelerator

The initiative's leader shares his aspirations as the next round kicks off this week.

March 16, 2015
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Innovation Perspectives

Innovation in 140 Characters or Less

The Governing Summit in Louisville, Ky., provided unique ways for participants to share ideas.

February 27, 2015
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Innovation Perspectives

The Challenge of Making Sure Innovation 'Sticks'

The original champions of change might move on, but their ideas don't have to leave with them.

February 12, 2015
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Innovation Perspectives

An Interactive Gathering for City Leaders

The convening focuses on solving urban problems through synergy and innovation.

February 5, 2015
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Innovation Perspectives

What the VW Beetle Can Teach Us About Housing

Is it time to “think small” to be more innovative and sustainable in our urban developments?

January 29, 2015
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Innovation Perspectives

Innovation Guide Promotes New Culture of Civic Exploration

The guide's action-oriented framework supports a spirit of adventure and change in urban communities.

January 22, 2015
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Innovation Perspectives

Small City, Big Innovations, Huge Progress

The community in Fitchburg, Mass., came together to solve youth crime and budget challenges.

January 15, 2015
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Innovation Perspectives

True Resilience Means Cities Must Plan for Poverty-Stricken Citizens

Weather-related events are often catastrophic for urban poor.

January 8, 2015
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Innovation Perspectives

Low-Income Citizens Can Benefit When Cities and Private Sector Partner

"Bank On" programs and other innovative initiatives reduce the victimization of poor individuals.

December 19, 2014
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Innovation Perspectives

Want to Innovate? Determine Your City's Greatest Need and Get to Work

Governments must ask themselves critical questions before change can happen.

December 11, 2014
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Innovation Perspectives

Where's Your Pothole?

Additional innovation is needed for infrastructure issues that aggravate the public.

December 4, 2014
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Innovation Perspectives

Changes to Obamacare Could Bring Opportunity for Innovation

Low-income individuals can benefit from incremental improvements to the health care law.

November 19, 2014
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Innovation Perspectives

No Simple Solutions to Immigration Reform

This controversial issue shouldn't be about politics -- it's about people.

November 13, 2014
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Innovation Perspectives

Nashville and Louisville Use Innovation and Imagination in City Infrastructure

The City Accelerator communities are creating an environment of ingenuity.

November 6, 2014
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Innovation Perspectives

Innovation Goes Beyond Buzzwords

Trends in management and change might come and go, but innovation remains a common thread.

October 31, 2014
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Innovation Perspectives

Why Steve Jobs Might Have Failed at Government Innovation

Failure followed by success can make a legend in business, but second chances are hard to come by in the public sector.

October 22, 2014
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Innovation Perspectives

Children Shine Light on Complexity of Homelessness

It may be easy to blame individuals for their plight -- until children are involved.

October 15, 2014
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Innovation Perspectives

Homeless Veterans' Sacrifices Merit Special Attention

Mental trauma and emotional wounds mean many vets end up in the streets. They deserve better.

September 30, 2014
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Innovation Perspectives

How the Shrinking Ozone Hole Is Like the War on Poverty

When we face reality, we take the first step to fixing a problem.

September 17, 2014
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Innovation Perspectives

Similarities among the City Accelerator's Top 3 Plans

Each cities' innovative plan to help low-income residents seems so different at first glance.

September 4, 2014
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Innovation Perspectives

Minimum-Wage Maximizing City Challenges

Federal government inaction is thrusting a tough issue on local jurisdictions.

August 27, 2014
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Innovation Perspectives

Poverty Is a Multi-Pronged Problem

Solutions to helping the poor aren't simple, but we must press on.

August 19, 2014
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Innovation Perspectives

Don’t Leave Poor Populations out of Internet Initiatives

Technology has the power to unite but also the potential to divide.

August 12, 2014
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Innovation Perspectives

When Innovation Isn't Glamorous

We need to make the case for the glitzless but still innovative initiatives.

August 5, 2014
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Innovation Perspectives

5 Themes in City Poverty Plans

City Accelerator finalists have commonalities in the problems they face and their proposed solutions.

July 29, 2014
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Innovation Perspectives

Cities Ask Citizens for Poverty Solutions

San Jose and Nashville are planning to tap the talents of citizens for innovative solutions to their problems with poverty.

July 23, 2014
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Innovation Perspectives

A Tale of Two Cities' Anti-Poverty Plans

Philadelphia and Denver are plotting different ways for their low-income residents to get out of poverty.

July 15, 2014
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Innovation Perspectives

Innovation Profiles: Louisville and Albuquerque

Two former transportation hubs are bringing back economic vitality with a focus on their most vulnerable populations.

July 8, 2014
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Innovation Perspectives

Innovation Needed to Finally Win War on Poverty

Fifty years after President Johnson declared war on poverty, we're facing the same battles.

July 2, 2014
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Innovation Perspectives

Recreation as Innovation: San Antonio Rethinks a Public Good

Cities should strive to provide recreation for vulnerable populations.

June 23, 2014
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Innovation Perspectives

The Art of Change

One way innovative cities helped curb homelessness? Parking meters.

June 13, 2014
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Innovation Perspectives

Take the Shot, Get the Goal and Win the Game

Fear of failure can inhibit cities from innovating. It shouldn't.

June 10, 2014
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Innovation Perspectives

When You're Out of Money, It's Time to Start Thinking

Innovative funding solutions can be born from bad times.

June 3, 2014
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Innovation Perspectives

Hard-Earned Lessons, Good Grounding for the City Accelerator

The former mayor of the “Most Transformed City” in America is going to help chronicle civic innovation through the City Accelerator.

June 3, 2014
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Voices of the GOVERNING Institute

VW, the UAW and the Re-Industrialization of America

The changing relationship between labor and business is important for communities hoping for a manufacturing comeback.

May 30, 2014
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Innovation Perspectives

Gig City Is Proof Municipal Broadband Works

The FCC wants to prevent states from banning locally and publicly owned broadband. That plan is spot on -- and Chattanooga, Tenn., proves it.

June 2, 2014
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