Calling all elected leaders of rural communities

Being a small, rural community hasn’t stopped Pelahatchie, MS from creating a great downtown. Photo via the Pelahatchie Comprehensive Plan.

Are you a local elected official in a rural community and interested in smart growth strategies? If so, we want to hear from you.

Later this spring, Smart Growth America’s Local Leaders Council will launch our new Rural Leaders Network, a group of elected and appointed leaders from rural communities across the country. The Network will be an opportunity for rural leaders to share ideas, collaborate, network, and learn how a smart growth approach can work in rural places.

Many rural communities are facing declining populations and faltering local economies. Others are struggling to preserve their identity in the path of expanding urban regions or demand for development near natural resources. Smart growth strategies can help with both these sets of challenges, and connecting with fellow rural leaders is a great way to learn how.

“Each community has to find its story, its economic reason to exist, and exploit that,” says Mayor Knox Ross of Pelahatchie, MS and member of the Local Leaders Council since 2014. “What works for the town down the road may not work for me, but it’s always worth thinking about.”

Requests to join the Rural Leaders Network are now being accepted. The Network will be a sub-group of our Local Leaders Council, and meetings will be predominantly online or by phone. The group’s first in-person meeting will be this July in Washington, DC.

If you are an elected leader of a rural community and interested in joining this network, contact us to request an invitation. If you are not an elected leader of a rural community but know someone who is, send a message encouraging them to join.

We also want to hear what resources would be most helpful for rural leaders. What challenges is your rural town currently facing? What strategies have succeeded in your town, and what could other leaders learn from your work? Let us know!

The Network will officially launch later this spring. We look forward to working with rural leaders from across the country as part of this exciting new work.

Local Leaders Council