State of the Cities: Mayors Focused on Infrastructure, Economic Development

Mayors around the country are pledging to bolster infrastructure projects with new federal funding, generate economic growth, and support the most vulnerable residents.

June 28, 2022, 5:00 AM PDT

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction


Stormwater Infrastructure

Presidio of Monterey / Flickr

The National League of Cities has released its annual State of the Cities report, which highlights infrastructure, economic development, budgets and management, and public safety” as top priorities, based on an analysis of 60 mayoral speeches. Danielle McLean outlines the report’s findings in an article for Smart Cities Dive.

Researchers found that cities are focused on utilizing an influx of federal funds through the American Rescue Plan that passed last year, as well as the forthcoming infusion of money via the bipartisan infrastructure law that passed in the fall, the report stated. Mayors also focused on working through employment pressures, while trying to ensure their residents are treated equitably.

Mayors expressed more optimism this year than last year, when funding for infrastructure and economic development was more uncertain. “In the latest report, 36% of the mayoral speeches NLC analyzed had ‘significant mention’ of infrastructure. Recognizing the need for maintenance and spending on roads, bridges, broadband and water and sewer systems, local governments were preparing to apply for, receive and utilize the influx of federal and state grants they have received or will soon be available, the report states.”

Additionally, “Economic development was central in mayoral speeches, with 33% significantly mentioning it. In an effort to generate economic growth, mayors highlighted plans to invest in downtown developments and commercial real estate projects. They also mentioned lifting up residents most impacted financially by the pandemic through community development, entrepreneurship initiatives and other strategies, the report states.”

Mayors also prioritized leadership and city management, as well as public safety and criminal justice reform.

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