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CityFutures program focuses on leadership in an era of transformation.

By now, many are poignantly aware that economic and other broad, sustained changes are transforming cities and impacting local governance. But how and why are cities strategically positioned to take advantage of their local assets to provide national leadership during this era of transformation?

To share new insights on this pivotal question, members and guests of NLC's CityFutures Program, a program of engagement, analysis, outreach and impact on the trends and changes affecting America's cities, met during a luncheon at the Congress of Cities in San Antonio.

Henry Cisneros, former mayor of San Antonio and former secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development, welcomed participants and noted how dramatic shifts in culture, technology, environmental concerns and the economy have changed the very premises and assumptions upon which local officials govern their communities.


"Cities are places where people live, work, learn and come together," said Cisneros, a former NLC president. "With new technologies for community engagement, the rise of the green economy, Internet applications to education, and the public's greater desire for more diverse housing and transportation options, local governments must seek out and exploit the new opportunities available to prosper and to interact with their constituency."

Carol Coletta, CEO and president of CEOs for Cities, a national network of community leaders from the civic, business, academic and philanthropic sectors, keynoted the luncheon and highlighted prominent "city vitals," or capacities available in cities that allow them to lead the nation toward a successful future, including:

* Talent, or the underlying intellectual capital a city or region can draw on to build its economy and to weather the inevitable shocks of competition and change;

* Innovation, or the ability to generate new ideas and to turn those ideas into reality;

* Connections among local residents to promote the creation of new ideas, as well as external connections with the rest of the world to enable people and businesses to tap into the global economy; and

* Distinctiveness, or the unique characteristics of a place that serve as its true source of competitive advantage.

"Cities can combine the four dimensions in different ways, building on their own unique strengths and weaknesses to position themselves to compete and prosper in a global economy" said Coletta. "Not all cities have the same opportunities and desire the same results."

It is the role of city officials to help their communities understand change and to determine a vision for a successful future. Local leadership skills needed to facilitate prosperity and to capitalize on "city vitals" include working across issue, sector and jurisdictional boundaries, basing decisions on facts about the strengths and weaknesses of the community and acting with creativity to find new opportunities, and using new technologies to not only deliver services, but to mobilize citizens for action.

CityFutures Panels on community and regional development, public finance and democratic governance also met during the conference.

Details: For more information about the CityFutures Program and panels, go to or contact Christiana McFarland, program director, at

The CityFutures Program luncheon can be viewed online at

For more information about CEOs for Cities and "city vitals," go to www.ceosforcities. org.
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Author:McFarland, Christiana
Publication:Nation's Cities Weekly
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Nov 23, 2009
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