Strongest Town Contest

A bracket-based competition

It’s time again for our annual Strongest Town Contest. Each year, our members, listeners, and readers are invited to enter their town or city in this 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.

You don’t have to be a local elected official or government employee to nominate your town. Anyone can submit an entry, and we encourage group submissions. Does your town perform well on the Strong Towns strength test? Does it put Strong Towns principles into practice? Let the world know by entering it in the Strongest Town contest. Applications will be accepted until 11 p.m. CDT on Sunday, March 10th.

Initial contest submissions will be judged by a panel of Strong Towns staff and board members. Then, through four rounds of competition kicking off on Monday, March 18th, we’ll invite our readers and listeners to vote on match-ups between these towns based on written submissions, photos, podcast interviews, and more!

2018’s winner was Muskegon, Michigan. Who will be this year’s Strongest Town?

This year’s contest is generously sponsored by:

Contest Rules

  • Initial nominations must be submitted by March 10, 2019.

  • The first round will be judged by Strong Towns staff and board in order to determine the Sweet Sixteen. After that, it'll be up to our readers to vote for their favorites each week. Voting is weighted so that Strong Towns member votes comprise 50% of the tally and non-member votes make up the other 50%.

  • If you are invited on to the next round, you will be asked to participate in another step of the application process. The contest progresses quickly, so please review the schedule in advance.

  • The winning town will receive a visit from Strong Towns President, Chuck Marohn, to celebrate the victory and share the Strong Towns message. (Note: While the contest is open to anyone in the world, we can only offer a visit in the continental United States due to the small budget of our organization.)

  • Strong Towns staff, regular contributors, board members and previous years' winners (Carlisle, PA; Traverse City, MI; and Muskegon, MI) are excluded from participating in this competition.


Please contact our Content Manager, Daniel Herriges, at

Contest Phases

SWEET SIXTEEN (March 18-21)
Once our staff and board members select the strongest 16 entries, we'll publish their answers to our initial questionnaire on our website along with commentary from Strong Towns member experts and invite everyone to vote between each of eight town match-ups.

ELITE EIGHT (March 25-28)
Based on your votes, we'll invite eight towns to move on to the next round and send us 5 photos with captions which illustrate the strength of your town. Again, members and readers will have a chance to vote between town match-ups.

FINAL FOUR (April 2-5)
In the Final Four round, we'll invite the winners of each match-up to come onto a special edition of the Strong Towns podcast to make their case for why theirs is the strongest town. We'll publish these podcasts and invite our audience to listen and vote in two final match-ups.

As the culmination of our Strongest Town contest, we'll invite the top two towns onto a live webcast to debate and discuss the strength of their towns. Our audience will vote between these two and we'll declare the winner on April 12.


One of 2017’s match-ups: Ellsworth, ME vs. Traverse City, MI.

One of 2017’s match-ups: Ellsworth, ME vs. Traverse City, MI.

Monday, February 11: Applications released.
Sunday, March 10: Town nominations due by 11 pm CDT.
Monday, March 18: The 16 contenders’ submissions are published, and Strong Towns readers vote for the strongest.
Thursday, March 21: Voting closes at 12 pm CDT. Top 8 contenders will be notified and asked to each submit a series of photos illustrating their town’s strength.
Monday, March 25: Top 8 photo submissions are published, and Strong Towns readers vote for the strongest.
Thursday, March 28: Voting closes at 12 pm CDT. Final four contenders will be notified and interviewed for podcast episodes.
Tuesday, April 2: Final four podcasts published, and Strong Towns readers vote for the strongest.
Friday, April 5: Final four voting closes at 12pm CDT. The top 2 championship competitors will be notified.
Monday, April 8: The Championship Round is announced and a live webinar takes place with representatives of the final two. Strong Towns readers vote for the champion.
Thursday, April 11: Championship voting closes at 12pm CDT.
Friday, April 12: The winner is announced!

Thank You to Our Contest Sponsors!

A special thank you to our sponsors for their generosity in supporting the 2019 Strongest Town Contest. Click on each logo to be directed to that sponsor’s website.

Here's the final bracket from the 2018 contest:

Click to view larger