They hailed from across the country and around world — 16 towns striving for the goal of being crowned, The Strongest. From a tiny town on the edge of Maine to a West Coast metropolis, they shared their successes, their pride, their creativity and their challenges with the Strong Towns audience. It was an honor to get to know all of them through our second annual Strongest Town Contest.

Today, we're ready to announce the winner. The final match-up between Guelph, Ontario and Traverse City, Michigan proved to be our closest race yet. In the end, the winner took the lead by 4 percentage points.

We're pleased to announce the winner of this year's Strongest Town Contest: Traverse City, Michigan!

Front Street in Traverse City during the summer. (Photo by Russ Soyring)

Front Street in Traverse City during the summer. (Photo by Russ Soyring)

Throughout the contest, we learned about Traverse City's fun-loving, active population that takes pride in its local businesses and collaboratively addresses challenges. Traverse City stood out as a town where multi-modal transportation is key, where small businesses thrive, and where natural beauty is beloved and prioritized.

While it's a popular tourist destination, this contest also made clear that Traverse City is alive with activity all year round. Traverse City is meeting challenges like providing affordable housing head-on, with new provisions for accessory dwelling units, decreasing building and parking regulations, and encouraging creative development styles. Here's what residents of this town had to say about why theirs is a strong town:

  • "We're blessed with a really great geographical setting."
  • "To say the residents of Traverse City are actively involved in decision making would be a gross understatement. Public participation appears to part of the DNA here."
  • "You can live a life of convenience here without needing an automobile."
  • "Our strong town is only getting stronger as more and more people are finding our piece of heaven in the not-so-obscure-anymore Northern Michigan."

Known for its cherries, Traverse City is a town of 14,600 in northern Michigan. US News put Traverse City on its 2012 list of best places to retire and its age-diverse population shows that it's a place that people at all phases of life call home. Traverse City is also a well-known producer of wine and beer in the midwest and place rich with outdoor activities. Check out this recent video about Traverse City to see more.

We congratulate Traverse City on its win and thank all of the towns for their participation in this contest.

As its prize, Traverse City will receive copies of Strong Towns' books plus a Curbside Chat hosted by Chuck Marohn at a future date.

We'll be back next year for a third run of this contest so please join us then and stick around to see all the work that we do throughout the year. If you've got feedback about this year's contest, we'd love to hear it. Please email quednau@strongtowns.org with your comments.

(Top graphic by Matthias Leyrer)