PITTSBURG — On Monday, March 9, voting commenced in the fifth-annual Strongest Town Contest, a bracket-based competition designed to spotlight communities from around the world that are building enduring financial resilience at the local level and actively embodying the Strong Towns approach to economic growth and development.

Nominations were accepted in February and sixteen finalists were chosen. They include a mix of rural, suburban, and urban communities, as well as three different countries. The finalists are: Abingdon, Virginia; Athens, Ohio; Beloit, Wisconsin; Chubbuck, Idaho; Haifa, Israel; Hamilton, Missouri; Highland Park, Illinois; Lander, Wyoming; Pittsburg, Kansas; Sharon, Pennsylvania; Streator, Illinois; Sylvania, Ohio; Victoria, British Columbia; Watertown, South Dakota; Winona, Minnesota, and Wytheville, Virginia.

In the spirit of Strong Towns’ inclusive model of change, average citizens and civic leaders alike were invited to submit their community for consideration for the title; nominators did not need to be (but could have been) official government representatives. According to a release from the City of Pittsburg, nominees completed questionnaires, which will be published as part of the first round of voting. Nominators from the towns that advance to the subsequent rounds will be given a series of interactive challenges, ending with just one community claiming the title of 2020’s Strongest Town.

Every year, the Strongest Town contest promotes high levels of local civic engagement in the nominated communities and prompts significant local and national media attention, as well as inspiring other cities and towns around the world to adopt the successful strategies from the best contenders. Past winners have included Musekgon, Michigan; Traverse City, Michigan; Carlisle, Pennsylvania; and Pensacola, Florida. This year’s champion will be invited to join past winners at the National Strong Towns Conference and Celebration in Pensacola, Florida from April 30 to May 1.

The City of Pittsburg is going head to head in a bracket-based competition of its own for the title of "Strongest Town!" The competition consists of four rounds of match-ups between towns based on written submissions, photos, podcast interviews, and a final championship debate. Members of the public are invited to vote for their favorite city in the first round of the competition.

People can visit www.strongtowns.org to cast a vote. The challenger in round one will be Sharon, Pennsylvania. After voting people can share the link and invite their friends to participate. Use the hashtag #strongesttown.

The deadline to vote is noon on Thursday, March 12. People can stay tuned for more updates on the city’s social media pages:

Facebook: @PittsburgKS

Twitter: @PittsburgKS

Instagram: @cityofpittsburg

For more information, visit strongtowns.org/strongesttown or contact Content Manager John Pattison at john@strongtowns.org.