100+ local elected leaders join together to boost the prospects of America’s rural places, smaller towns and midsized cities

The First & Main coalition of local elected leaders sent a letter this week to Congress and the Trump administration urging them not to cut or eliminate programs upon which these local communities rely.

This administration campaigned on promises of small-town prosperity. But do they understand what actual small town leaders need from them? For the last few months, this fast-growing group of local leaders—under the banner of First & Main—have been developing and rallying around a Blueprint for Prosperity to let both Congress and the White House know how to best help communities like theirs succeed.

Whether in a rural area, a tribal community, or a smaller city, the corner of First & Main represents the anchor of it all. Promoting the vitality of these places is key to America’s prosperity, and more than 100 local elected leaders who represent small towns, cities or counties across 33 states have now joined the First & Main coalition.

Downtown Bentonville, Arkansas (Image credit: Zak Heald, Intercut Productions)

This week these 107 leaders signed a letter to leadership in Congress and the White House calling on them to be “reliable federal partners to support our homegrown efforts to rebuild our downtowns, restore our economies, and improve opportunity for everyone.”

Scores of these smaller communities have renewed their prosperity by focusing on downtown development and a powerful alchemy of their own dollars, grit, and perseverance—paired with resources from a range of vital federal programs. But what if these federal resources were gutted or drastically reduced?

Many federal programs contained in the First & Main Blueprint were slated for elimination or cuts by President Trump’s first two budget requests, like TIGER (recently rebranded as BUILD), Economic Development Agency grants, historic preservation tax credits, or Community Development Block Grants, to name just a few of the 30+ programs in the Blueprint. Fortunately, Congress’ two-year budget deal and subsequent appropriations bills spared most from cuts, but that action is only a temporary reprieve.

As the letter states, “the undersigned mayors, city councilors, town leaders, county executives and commissioners, tribal leaders, and other local elected officials from across America are calling on the federal government to support and partner with their local communities by enacting this Blueprint. We urge you to focus on proven solutions that will stimulate the kind of economic growth that will create vibrant, healthy communities; bring prosperity to all of our residents, families, and workers; and produce the rising tide that lifts all boats in our communities.”

Read (or download here) the full letter and list of signatories below:


President Trump and Members of Congress,

We, the undersigned local elected leaders of the First & Main coalition, represent rural communities, counties, tribal areas, small towns and mid-sized cities across the United States. We present this blueprint to cross party lines and restore the prosperity of America’s local communities—and the people within them—that have been missing out or left behind.

The First & Main Blueprint can provide our communities with the resources we need to prosper by doing three basic things:

  • Protecting the federal programs that are proven to work for our local communities,
  • Improving the programs that we believe can be effective, and,
  • Creating new programs to provide local communities with additional resources.

What’s First & Main? The corner of First & Main is where everything happens. Whether in a rural area or a smaller city, First & Main is the anchor of it all. It’s where east and west meet north and south. It’s the county seat. It’s where you can find the old train depot that built the town, City Hall, the family restaurant everyone knows, the businesses that continue to drive our local economy, or the corner from which to spot the most beautiful historic buildings in town. These communities form the basic building block of our nation’s prosperity.

The potential of our communities is abundant, yet decades of disinvestment have undermined their economic potential. We have seen factories shuttered, local roads and bridges deteriorate, quality of life compromised, and jobs lost. To send prosperity rippling outward to everyone in our communities and then throughout the country, we need a reliable federal partner to support our homegrown, local efforts. We’re calling on you to help us turn these cities and towns into beacons of opportunity for everyone, including those who are struggling and have been left behind within them.

We see deep inequities in the health, transportation, housing, and economic development outcomes that result from federal investments. Many of our communities are too often left out, and even when investments do reach us, the benefits often fail to extend to everyone.

We all share four key principles that guide what we’re asking of you:

Support locally-driven community revitalization, which is essential to the vitality of these communities and attracting additional investment to our regions.

Build vibrant, healthy, walkable towns and cities to help address health disparities and connect everyone in the community to greater opportunities, strengthen entire regions, enhance quality of life, and attract additional and sustained economic investment.

Create opportunities for everyone in America’s small and mid-sized communities by providing equal access and distribution to small and mid-size communities within federal programs.

Invest in infrastructure that creates lasting value, not expensive liabilities for which our communities lack the money to maintain. Connecting more places and people is critical for success, and rebuilding and fixing existing infrastructure upon which we have relied for decades should be our first priority.

Derived from these overarching principles, our full Blueprint is composed of 30-plus detailed strategies arrayed through these five areas that are under your budgetary or policy control:

Redevelopment and Revitalization includes strategies like redeveloping brownfields, and preserving vital Tax-Exempt Municipal Bonds, New Market Tax Credits, and Historic Preservation Tax Credits, among others.

Local Economic Development includes strategies like boosting the Economic Development Administration and the Rural Development program within the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and expanding the Appalachian Community Renewal program, among others.

Rebuilding Downtown & Core Areas includes strategies like creating a Public Square Initiative within the National Park Service and an Anchor Institution Initiative within the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), and funding HUD’s Neighborhood Renewal program, among others.

Create Housing & Neighborhoods includes strategies like making improvements to Affordable Housing Tax Credits, preserving the National Housing Trust Fund, and providing $3 billion each year for Community Development Block Grants.

Infrastructure Investment includes strategies like continuing to fund TIGER grants, the Transportation Alternatives Program, and all Federal Transit Administration programs to help communities invest in community-scale and priority transportation projects; providing grants to expand broadband internet access through gigabit zones; and providing more funding for the State Clean Water & Drinking Water Revolving Funds and the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act to improve water infrastructure funding and integrated water infrastructure approaches.

The undersigned mayors, city councilors, town leaders, county executives and commissioners, tribal leaders, and other local elected officials from across America are calling on the federal government to support and partner with their local communities by enacting this Blueprint. We urge you to focus on proven solutions that will stimulate the kind of economic growth that will create vibrant, healthy communities; bring prosperity to all of our residents, families, and workers; and produce the rising tide that lifts all boats in our communities.


First & Main members
107 members on June 21, 2018. View the most current list of signers here.

Mayor Ken Sunseri City of Haleyville AL
Mayor Hollie Cost City of Montevallo AL
Mayor William “Ronnie” Marks City of Athens AL
Commissioner Jerry Carl Mobile County AL
Mayor Jeff Collier Town of Dauphin Island AL
Mayor Mark Stodola City of Little Rock AR
Mayor Pat McCabe City of Hot Springs AR
Councilmember Jeanine Guy City of Buckeye AZ
Mayor Rey Leon City of Huron CA
Mayor Sofia Pereira City of Arcata CA
Councilmember Miguel Canales City of Artesia CA
Councilmember Colin Parent La Mesa CA
Supervisor Mike Wilson Humboldt County CA
Vice Mayor Brett Watson City of Arcata CA
Mayor Michael Gamba City of Glenwood Springs CO
Mayor Sean Murphy Town of Telluride CO
Councilmember Jonathan Godes City of Glenwood Springs CO
Mayor David Martin City of Stamford CT
Mayor Nathan Blackwell City of St. Cloud FL
Mayor Gregory Oravec City of Port St. Lucie FL
Mayor Wayne Messam City of Miramar FL
Mayor Bob Campbell City of DeFuniak Springs FL
Mayor Joseph Corradino Village of Pinecrest FL
Deputy Mayor Dave Askew City of St. Cloud FL
Mayor Lauren Poe City of Gainesville FL
Mayor Robert Reichert Macon-Bibb County GA
Mayor Kay Pippin City of Jackson GA
Vice Chairman Bruce Holmes Henry County GA
Mayor Bill Copeland City of McDonough GA
Councilmember Ann Tarpley City of Hampton GA
Mayor Roy Buol City of Dubuque IA
Councilmember Patrick Morrissey City of Waterloo IA
Councilmember Greg Piklapp City of Boone IA
Mayor Matt Bemrich City of Fort Dodge IA
Councilmember Dylan Parker City of Rock Island IL
Councilmember Bryan Tanner City of Mishawaka IN
Councilmember Duane Chattin City of Vincennes IN
Commissioner Myron Griswold City of Leavenworth KS
Mayor William May City of Frankfort KY
Mayor Carter Hendricks City of Hopkinsville KY
Mayor Ronny Walker City of Ruston LA
Mayor Belinda Constant City Of Gretna LA
Councilmember Howard Luna St. Bernard Parish LA
Mayor Daniel Rivera City of Lawrence MA
Mayor Gee Williams Town of Berlin MD
Mayor Patrick Wojahn City of College Park MD
Councilmember Dannielle Glaros Prince George’s County MD
Mayor Candace Hollingsworth City of Hyattsville MD
Mayor Edward Estes City of Glenarden MD
Mayor Mark Walker City of Hallowell ME
Mayor Samantha Paradis City of Belfast ME
Commissioner Antonio Blasi Hancock County ME
Councilmember Michael Madore Town of Millinocket ME
Mayor Andy Schor City of Lansing MI
Councilmember Maria Taylor City of Farmington MI
Mayor Rosalynn Bliss City of Grand Rapids MI
Mayor Bobby Hopewell City of Kalamazoo MI
Mayor Mark Meadows City of East Lansing MI
Councilmember Ian Thomas City of Columbia MO
Councilmember Bud Thering Knob Noster MO
Mayor Robert W Lourwood City of Ironton MO
Mayor Sly James Kansas City MO
Mayor Eileen Weir City of Independence MO
Mayor Eddie Fulton Quitman MS
Mayor Gene McGee Ridgeland MS
Mayor Robyn Tannehill City of Oxford MS
Alderwoman Daphne Sims City of Canton MS
Mayor William Truly City of Canton MS
Mayor Tom Ferguson Hernando MS
Mayor John Engen City of Missoula MT
Councilmember David White City of Shelby NC
Mayor Eddie Braxton Scotland Neck NC
Mayor Ben Aufforth City of Bottineau ND
Mayor Svante Myrick City of Ithaca NY
Supervisor Gregory Young Fulton County NY
Mayor Randy Casale City of Beacon NY
Mayor Lovely Warren City of Rochester NY
Mayor Noah Bramson City of New Rochelle NY
Supervisor Judi Bosworth Town of North Hempstead NY
Councilmember Emily Svenson Town of Hyde Park NY
Councilmember Sean Dunne City of Portsmouth OH
Councilmember Kelda Lorax Town of Fairland OK
Mayor Denny Doyle City of Beaverton OR
Mayor John Cook City of Tigard OR
Mayor Maria Marcinko Borough of Steelton PA
Mayor Simon Short Borough of Monaca PA
Mayor Bill Peduto City of Pittsburgh PA
Mayor Bill Janakovic City of Johnstown PA
Mayor Tim Scott Borough of Carlisle PA
Councilmember Michael Derman Borough of Lewisburg PA
Mayor Eric Papenfuse City of Harrisburg PA
Mayor Knox White City of Greenville SC
Mayor Madeline Rogero City of Knoxville TN
Mayor Jackie Shornak City of Hopewell VA
Mayor Frank Kuntz City of Wenatchee WA
Commissioner Bobby Jackson Lewis County WA
Mayor Roger Wentz City of Union Gap WA
Deputy Mayor Dave Matson City of Union Gap WA
Councilmember Dave Butler City of Union Gap WA
Councilmember Kate Burke City of Spokane WA
Mayor Zachary Vruwink City of Wisconsin Rapids WI
Mayor Scott Rogers City of Charles Town WV
Mayor Steve Williams City of Huntington WV
Mayor Duke Pierson City of Ranson WV
Mayor Harold Miller City of Weirton WV
Mayor George Karos City of Martinsburg WV
Mayor Glenn Elliott City of Wheeling
  • WV
Economic development Local Leaders Council