Strong Towns member Daniel Hintz is making a serious impact in Northwest Arkansas. He was recently profiled in the Arkansas Democrat Gazette, where senior editor, Rex Nelson, labeled him "The City Whisperer." Nelson explains for the last several decades, "growth" in Northwest Arkansas looked like strip malls and suburban office parks:
It wasn't a place you wanted to bring your family on vacation. And it sure wasn't a place you wanted to move unless your job demanded it. One of the things that changed the equation was that the cities in the region began focusing again on downtowns that could provide a sense of history, continuity and place. Hintz has been a part of that economic development revolution for more than a decade now.
Hintz has worked to enliven and strengthen downtown Fayetteville and helped spur tens of millions of dollars in investment in downtown Bentonville. In 2013, he founded Velocity Group, which helps cities identify their "unique DNA of Place™ and offers practical action steps that integrate existing assets with aspirational vision to focus and align people, investments and ideas."
He's been a writer, filmmaker, construction worker, cook and now, economic developer. That may sound like an unusual resume, but it's exactly the sort of background that we encounter in Strong Towns members across the country. This movement is made up of people like Daniel who have been working to make their community better in a myriad of ways, who take the lead when they see a challenge that needs to be addressed, and who care deeply about their towns. You don't need an engineering degree or a political title to put Strong Towns principles into action.
Asked how this movement has influenced his work, Hintz says, "The aggregate wisdom of Strong Towns has both inspired and informed our thinking in helping foster economically resilient and compelling community experiences and development projects. We often share the articles with clients and colleagues to fuel great conversations around placemaking. Strong Towns is an awesome resource!"
(All photos from Velocity Group)