Twin Falls is the fifth-best-run small city in America.  It’s the result of research from the Milken Institute.  Over the weekend, I saw my old friend, Steve Millington, and he told me about the findings.  Idaho placed four small cities in the top seven, which is astonishing.  Idaho Falls, Coeur d’Alene, and Pocatello also placed in the top seven.  Boise tops the list for large cities.

Idaho Falls. Credit Bill Colley.
Idaho Falls. Credit Bill Colley.
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The results raise a question, what are we doing right?  Or what are others doing wrong?  The cities on the back end are primarily in the Northeast or the Southwest.  The old cities of the Northeast survive on patronage, which worked fine when the tax base was financed by heavy industry, much of which packed up and left long ago.  The bloated governments point fingers elsewhere and expect to be bailed out without adjusting to the new reality.

The Southwestern cities struggle under a similar burden, absorbing a surge of newcomers and promising a free lunch in exchange for votes.

Twin Falls. Credit Bill Colley.
Twin Falls. Credit Bill Colley.
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Twin Falls City Councilman summed it up to a cultural difference.  Very true.  The Mountain West developed out of a sense of individualism and a belief government wasn’t Mom and Dad.

Some may criticize our local governments' direction, but that’s a good feature.  The critics keep up the pressure on local government.  If it’s not broken, then don’t fix it.

Now the challenge is to balance growth.  Every one of these research papers is another free commercial for the tourist and real estate industries!

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