Joining Fort Lauderdale as a 2014 All-America City are nine other communities from across the United States: Montgomery, Alabama; San Pablo, California; Brush, Colorado; Cedar Rapids, Iowa; Chelsea,Massachusetts; Independence, Oregon; Brownsville, Texas; Hampton, Virginia; and Eau Claire, Wisconsin.
"Congratulations on a job well done," said Denver Mayor Michael B. Hancock in a message to the All-America Cities. "Not only have you proven your ability to innovate, work together and take on the complex challenges facing America's communities, you've given inspiration and ideas to other communities across the country."
For two days, groups of civic leaders and community activists from 25 cities met in Denver to present their stories of positive change to a jury of civic experts and to network and exchange ideas and insights.
The National Civic League commended Fort Lauderdale for numerous projects that demonstrate outstanding civic engagement, cross sector collaboration, inclusiveness, and innovation. An array of Parks and Recreation programs that promote healthy active lifestyles were recognized including: Wise Kids, the Presidential Challenge, First Lady Michelle Obama's Let's Move Campaign, the Fit Kidz Club, and the City's after-school programs and youth camps.
Three major initiatives taking place in the community were highlighted as examples of positive meaningful change:
- The Dillard Innovation Zone Promise Neighborhood, an initiative of the Broward Regional Health Planning Council (BRHPC), that is cultivating community and business collaborations to support school improvement, health service interventions, mentoring, enhanced classroom technology, reading and literacy initiatives at Dillard Elementary School and initiating innovative solutions to reinvigorate a neighborhood in need.
- The redevelopment of Flagler Village, a downtown neighborhood that has been transformed from a desolate and abandoned warehouse district into a vibrant center for arts and culture. The revitalized area features unique businesses including a master puppeteer, media and photography company, event planning and marketing business, advertising agency, theatre troupe, and an innovative landscape architecture firm. Flagler Village's popular monthly Art Walks are a celebration of the neighborhood's innovation, vision and urban lifestyle, as well as a strong sign of the area's rebirth.
- Northwest Gardens, a neighborhood development located in the City's Northwest Community Redevelopment Area, is a model affordable housing project that showcases social, environmental, health, engagement, and economic sustainability. Spearheaded by the City of Fort Lauderdale Housing Authority in partnership with community members, private sector developers, and non-profit organizations, Northwest Gardens was the first LEED-ND Certified Neighborhood in Florida. The project promotes healthy living by providing residents with places to walk and bike safely, community gardens and fruit trees, energy efficient housing, solar streetlights, self-sufficiency training, job training, and cultural activities.
Fort Lauderdale was also lauded for its Complete Streets policy, which was recently ranked #1 in Florida and #3 in the nation; a wheelchair tennis program at George English Park; a walking club at Carter Park; and the hundreds of sports, programs, and community activities that have taken place during the past year at the new Orange Bowl Field at Carter Park.
"These communities are amazing," said National Civic League President Gloria Rubio-Cortés. "They deserve to be recognized for the great work they are doing to make their communities stronger, healthier and more inclusive. They have found innovative ways of aligning existing programs to achieve greater impact."
Once described by pollster George Gallup as the "Nobel Prize" for civic accomplishment, the All-America City awards have been given to more than 650 communities since the program's inception 65 years ago. Communities vying for the designation submit applications to the National Civic League listing three examples of successful community change and describing their capacities for civic engagement, collaboration, inclusiveness and innovation. Finalists present to a jury of civic experts who select the annual award winners.
The 2014 All-America City Award follows numerous national accolades Fort Lauderdale has received for its economic resurgence along with its leadership and vision to create an active, vibrant, inclusive, and sustainable City. These honors include:
"Top 10 Best Downtowns in 2014" - Livability.com
"Top 10 Most Exciting Cities in America" - Movoto National Real Estate
"Top 10 Greenest Mid-Sized Cities" - MyLife.com
"Top 10 Best U.S. Cities for Small Businesses" - Biz2Credit.com
"Top 10 Best Places to Move in 2014" - SML National Moving
"Top 10 Small American Cities of the Future" - Foreign Direct Investment Magazine
"Top 10 Best Cities for Parking" - NerdWallet.com
"Top 10 Best Places for Veterans to Live" - Best Places for Veterans Report
"Top 10 Great Cities for Family Vacations" - Vacation Critic Travel Planning Guide
"Top 10 Best Places to Retire" - Money Magazine
"Favorite Winter Destination of Canadians" - FlightNetwork.com
"Most Outstanding Green Government" - U.S. Green Building Council South Florida
"Happiest Cities for Young Professionals" - Forbes Magazine
"Best Places for Business and Careers" - Forbes Magazine
"Top 100 Best Cities to Start a Business" - WalletHub
"Certified as a Florida Green Local Government" - Florida Green Building Coalition
"Complete Streets Policy Ranked #1 in Florida and #3 Nationally" - Smart Growth America
"Top 10 Most Affordable Summer Destinations" - GoBankingRates.com
"One of seven areas nationwide cited as an American Dream region" - Xavier University and The Burghard Group
This national recognition affirms that the City's strategic planning, infrastructure enhancements, and community investments are paying off, and stand as a clear indication of Fort Lauderdale's strength and confidence moving forward.
The National Civic League (NCL) is a 120-year old nonpartisan, nonprofit organization based in Denver, Colorado. Its mission is accomplished by fostering and sharing promising practices of local government and public engagement and celebrating the progress that can be achieved when people work together. For more information, contact Mike McGrath at the National Civic League at 303 571-4343; firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit the All-America City Blog at www.allamericacityaward.com or the NCL web site at www.ncl.org