Strongest Town Contest

A bracket-based competition

A big thanks to everyone who has joined us for the 2018 Third Annual Strongest Town Contest. Each year, during this bracket-based competition, our members, listeners and readers have nominate their towns based on the Strong Towns strength test and Strong Towns principles. We know that no town is perfect. This contest is about showcasing towns that are doing their best to be strong, that have the building blocks in place to be strong towns today and in the future. 

Initial contest submissions were judged by a panel of Strong Towns staff and board members. Then, throughout the month of March, we invited our readers and listeners to vote on match-ups between these towns based on a variety of assessment tools including podcast interviews, photos and essays. 

This year's winner is Muskegon, Michigan. Congratulations to everyone in Muskegon and thank you to all who participated in the contest!

We hope you'll join us in February 2019 for next year's competition.

Here's the final bracket from the 2018 contest:

Click to view larger

One of last year's match-ups: Ellsworth, ME vs. Traverse City, MI.

One of last year's match-ups: Ellsworth, ME vs. Traverse City, MI.


Jan 30: Applications released.
Feb 25: Town nominations due by 11pm CT.
Mar 5-8: Sweet Sixteen is notified, their answers are published and Strong Towns readers vote for the strongest.
Mar 9: Sweet Sixteen voting closes at 12pm CT. Elite Eight are notified and 5 photos are requested of them, illustrating the strength of their town.
Mar 13-15: Elite Eight photos are published and Strong Towns readers vote for the strongest.
Mar 16: Elite Eight voting closes at 12pm CT. Final Four are notified.
Mar 19-20: Representatives from Final Four towns are interviewed for the Strong Towns podcast.
Mar 20-22: Final Four podcasts are published and Strong Towns readers vote for the strongest.
Mar 23: Final Four voting closes at 12pm CT. Championship competitors are notified.
Mar 26: The Championship Round is announced and a live webinar takes place with the final two. Strong Towns readers vote for the strongest.
Mar 30: The winner is announced!

Contest Rules

  • Initial nominations must be submitted by February 25, 2018. 
  • 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. See Schedule below for details.
  • 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 staffregular contributorsboard members and previous years' winners (Carlisle, PA and Traverse City, MI) are excluded from participating in this competition. 


Please contact

Contest Phases

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 13-15)
Based on your votes, we'll invite eight towns to move on to the next round and send us 5 photos to illustrate the strength of their town. Again, members and readers will have a chance to vote between town match-ups.

FINAL FOUR (March 20-22)
In the Final Four round, we'll invite the winners of each match-up to come onto 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 March 30.