About the Legacy Cities Initiative

Building an Equitable Renaissance: The Legacy Cities Initiative supports civic leaders, policymakers, and others working to build more equitable, sustainable, and prosperous legacy cities.

About the Legacy Cities Initiative

The Legacy Cities Initiative is a national network of community and government leaders working to create shared prosperity and bring attention to the common needs and collective importance of these older industrial centers. The initiative seeks to promote sustainable and equitable revitalization of legacy cities by convening leaders, stakeholders, and scholars; facilitating the exchange of ideas and practices; and researching and advancing new policy approaches.

A project of the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy, the Legacy Cities Initiative supports the exploration and implementation of innovative strategies and policies. Together, we advance cutting-edge state and local policies in support of urban areas nationwide, and we promote research to address legacy cities’ common challenges and opportunities and build a more equitable, sustainable, and prosperous future.

The Legacy Cities Community of Practice

The Legacy Cities Community of Practice is a year-long virtual fellowship that brings interdisciplinary teams from four cities together for peer learning, insights from expert faculty, and the opportunity to tackle entrenched citywide policy issues through place-based projects.

Submissions for expressions of interest are now closed for this year, but we thank everyone who applied to be part of our inaugural cohort.

For more information, download our information packet as a PDF or a PowerPoint presentation.


Rebuilding with Equity: The Future of Smaller Legacy Cities

June 29, 2021, 1 pm – 2pm

Leaders in America’s smaller legacy cities—former industrial and manufacturing hubs like Dayton, Ohio, and Gary, Indiana—can adopt equitable development strategies to meet the need for sound, long-term economic growth; to respond proactively to calls for racial equity; and to remedy the inequities laid bare by the COVID-19 pandemic and Black Lives Matter movement. Improving equity broadens everyone’s access to opportunity while boosting economic prospects for an entire city.

This webinar will focus on why equitable development is a sound strategy for smaller legacy cities today. Practitioners will share stories from legacy cities that are already embracing equity and inclusion. Presenters will articulate why equity is an important goal for their city or organization, and what equitable development looks like in the smaller legacy city context.

The webinar will build on the Policy Focus Report Equitably Developing America's Smaller Legacy Cities: Investing in Residents from South Bend to Worcester, published in May 2021.


Dorian A. Hunter, community advocate and co-founder of DreamVision (2017), NAACP Youth Committee of Springfield, Ohio (2018), and The Unified Collective (2020)

Lark T. Mallory, general counsel and director of CDFI Investments for The Affordable Housing Trust for Columbus and Franklin County

Robert M. Simpson, president of the CenterState Corporation for Economic Opportunity (CenterState CEO)

Webinar and Peer Exchange Series: Innovations in Legacy Cities

The Innovations in Legacy Cities webinar series is designed to provide legacy city leaders with access to cutting-edge tools and resources to solve the problems they face today. This series will be accompanied by opportunities for peer exchange as well, where city leaders can share their challenges and learn from their peers who are tackling similar ones.

October 15, 11 am – 12 pm: Planning for an Equitable Recovery with Limited Fiscal Resources

View the recording

Download the presentation

As COVID-19 continues to spread and policymakers grapple with confronting deep histories of racial discrimination, residents of many legacy cities have found themselves confronting old challenges with new and disproportionately high stakes. Yet legacy cities’ resilience uniquely enables them to weather these crises. Because research shows more equal places fare better economically, advancing equity is not only possible but necessary for an inclusive and meaningful recovery. However, in times when budgets are tight pursuing equity sometimes feels like a “nice-to-have.” This webinar will explore how legacy city leaders can pursue low-cost, high-impact planning to foster shared revitalization, led by the experiences of Baltimore, MD and Louisville, KY.


Emily Liu, Director of Louisville Metro Planning and Design Services, City of Louisville

Stephanie M. Smith, Assistant Director for Equity, Engagement and Communications, City of Baltimore

November 18, 11 am – 12 pm: Making Necessary Budget Cuts with an Eye to Equity and Resilience

View the recording

Download the presentation

Download Shayne Kavanagh's presentation

Cities across the United States are bracing for major fiscal shortfalls in the wake of COVID-19, and given high levels of uncertainty over the pandemic’s course, municipal budget cuts are all but inevitable. The situation is especially difficult for legacy cities, which were either already struggling economically or whose economies had just turned the corner. Budget cuts can be fraught in the best of times, and during a crisis they are more likely to disproportionately impact the city’s most vulnerable residents—or make it more difficult to start rebuilding when the crisis has passed.

This webinar will provide local leaders with tools to avoid falling into those traps, highlighting established best practices and exploring community engagement strategies to ensure that budgets reflect community priorities and the budget-cutting process builds buy-in and trust.


Shayne Kavanagh, Senior Manager, Research, Government Finance Officers Association (check out his book, Financial Foundations for Thriving Communities, which describes the techniques from the webinar in greater depth)

Robin McCormick, Communications Strategist, City of Hampton, VA

Jennifer Larson, Director of Finance and Budget, City of Dubuque, IA

Temwa Phiri, Community Engagement Coordinator, City of Dubuque, IA

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