You’re gonna have to forgive me a little crowing over this one. Little Piqua was one of the first towns on my radar when I first moved back to Ohio after more than 10 years elsewhere, thanks to its mature and impressive Main Street Program. Between that and the rehabilitation of the Fort Piqua Plaza, Piqua stood out to me for a long time as one of those rare towns that consistently makes things happen. And that was before Bill Lutz, who I knew from working in a previous community, landed there and eventually brought his experience, his independent thinking and his stream of good idea to the Wise Economy blog and podcast platforms.
So I wasn’t surprised when Piqua suddenly hit the national radar this week, with this article in GovFresh and a second one in the magazine Fast Company, highlighting the innovative and surprisingly low-cost things that Piqua does, including its awesome Citizen’s Academy. This article focuses on Piqua’s public engagement initiatives, but as I’ve pointed out here and in other Wise Economy materials, I think Piqua has become one of the small towns to watch when it comes to creative solutions to tough older city problems.
I especially love the fact that Bill identifies a hugely abstract, but so critical, element as the key to Piqua’s success. In the book, I called it bravery, but I think Bill is talking about the same thing:
What’s your recommendation to other cities who want to follow Piqua’s lead?
I think the most important ingredient in citizen engagement is courage. I will admit, being here in the city building, it is easy to get insulated from the needs and desires of the community and it takes courage to be willing to leave the coziness of this building to really get out and discuss with our residents their hopes and dreams. The most important thing we realized is that our residents, by and large, have high hopes and vivid dreams for Piqua. They have such a deep affinity and love for this place; they want this place to succeed as much as city staff.
Go get ’em, Piqua!