I had no idea that this competition was even around, NOW I do, and I am passing this on to all of Bismarck/Mandan! Strongtowns has put together their 6th annual Strongest Town Competition (click on there and check out the brackets and the 16 cities). Guess who has advanced to the 2nd round? Ours truly - Bismarck! The opponent to beat and move on is Northfield, VT. Now in this stage of the contest, both cities have submitted photos that best capture our charm and strengths.

One of our submissions is all about our "Art Alley" - Alley 5.2, or "Art Alley," was a Bismarck private-public partnership started by a Chamber leadership class. Events have been held here and it's our #1 Instagram spot. A beautiful aerial shot titled Main Avenue Road Diet - mainly refers to trimming the four lanes to three, which in return has brought some encouraging statistics - increased pedestrian counts, fewer severe car accidents, and a 380% increase in commercial permits after the conversion. Merchants, therefore, enjoying increased business thanks in part to more pedestrians out and about. Three of the other photos on display for this contest are Kessel Run Infill—4 Walk-Up Style Condos/Native Species and Plants in Urban Spaces/Temporary Bump-out Project. 

I love this idea of showcasing cities that are excited about slowly building, and adding on appealing new businesses, while still holding on to the history of what makes us all proud. Take a second to look into this and then vote - the cut-off date is THIS Thursday at noon.