Powerful Porters: Lockport Earns Title as “Strongest Town”

They started a barcket-style voting competition organized by StrongTowns.org to find the nation’s…well…strongest town, obviously.

After a few rounds of voting, the voices of the residents my second favorite canal town (sorry…great up in Lemont) came out champs!

Strongest Town Contest 2021 Championship Round (1).png

What do they get for that? Bragging rights, it seems, but what a cool title to brag about! And it was a very well-fought victory! Citizens of Lockport, and Mayor Streit himself, were very active in trying to win the contest. Take a look at all the steps needed to be named the nations “Strongest Town” and why they were chosen in the words of the contest organizers:

Congratulations to the Lockport team—Ben Benson, Bren Cann, Brittni Calderon, Lisa Heglund, Mayor Steve Streit, and Lance Thies—and to the whole city of Lockport.

Perhaps less well-known at the start compared to some of our other contestants, Lockport made a deep impression round after round. In their Round 1 questionnaire, we loved reading about the tangible steps the town was taking to improve walkability and bikeability, create diverse housing options, provide businesses maximum flexibility to weather the pandemic, and become more economically resilient. In Round 2, we were given a glimpse of Lockport through the eyes, not just of the official Lockport team, but of its educators, entrepreneurs, and residents. This citizen involvement was a theme which ran through all of Lockport’s submissions, and it led Strong Towns member Mitch Foster to write of Lockport, “Whether it is in the small, incremental investments in their commercial areas, or the success of their local arts community, they have co-created this amazing sense of community that engages all citizens.”

In the semifinal round,Mayor Steve Streit talked with Rachel Quednau about how the town has rallied to support businesses and residents throughout the pandemic—and not only at the city-level (a grant program, giving businesses the flexibility to adapt, etc.), but at the citizen-level too, as with the volunteer-driven Lockport Shield program. And in Monday’s webcast, we learned more about how Lockport has made courageous choices around annexation, how the City takes its lead from residents, the creative ways it is addressing parking, and how the City is focused on making its downtown a vibrant and dynamic place.

Lockport, a canal town, is justifiably proud of its history. Yet following along with the city throughout this contest, it’s become clear to Strong Towns staffers and readers: Lockport is building a future it can be proud of too.

Well done, Porters. Keep up the good work!