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More than half of all people in the world live in urban areas and that number is expected to reach 70% by mid-century. In the microcosm of our own city we see this shift most clearly in the rapid revitalization of our downtown, where cranes have become a fixture of our skyline. The question of how best to tackle this growth in a progressive, rather than reactionary way, is a crucial one.

Something to consider: Cities are defined by the interactions within them. It is the constant exchange of ideas between people of different backgrounds that fuels the vitality of a city. If we are to live up to our inclusive ideals, as cities, our economic development and tourism efforts should be collaborative.

With Amazon HQ2 contenders like Denver, Indianapolis, and Pittsburgh ramping up their urbanization engines to full speed, the concept of conscientious collaboration is at the forefront of our minds. How can all of these moving parts work together towards common goals? And how do we decide what those common goals are?

The prevailing philosophy on how to successfully tackle urbanization echos our own sentiment: To build a place that is a prosperous center of cultural and social well-being, we must listen to the needs of all stakeholders.

We get the phone calls, “What’s our city brand? Can you help us with a brand strategy?” And we ask, “What are your goals? Describe your vision.” We believe in the New Urban Agenda approach to building cities. Before you dive into a brand strategy, your stakeholders must align their goals. So, how do you do that?

Roadmap For City Goal Setting

  1. Know who’s leading the charge. Ensure your leader is favored by all or most stakeholders. The CVB could take the lead, or it could live with the Mayor’s Office, or with the Chamber of Commerce. But, one organization needs to take charge.
  2. Your leader should have a vision. One that’s based on a belief set or manifesto. Here’s a good example of a brand manifesto created for the City of Boston.
  3. Gather stakeholders. Look beyond the inner circle of typical decision makers. Ask yourself, who would stand to benefit? Bring these key stakeholders to the table (dissenting voices included).
  4. Identify goals. To set your goals, find common ground among stakeholders. Ask: What do we all need or want? Does that serve our city’s vision? And, does that goal align with our beliefs? For example, you may find that your universities, corporations, and economic development leaders need more qualified tech talent.
  5. Understand the ROI of your goals. Both financially and societally. This will help you figure out how much you’ll need to invest and who might contribute.

You won’t win over every stakeholder, but the more representative and inclusive you are, the stronger your coalition will be. Together you can determine goals to move your city forward.

We help cities set goals, shape meaningful brands, and connect with visitors, talent, and investors. Where are you in the process? Let’s chat.