American Dream: how to repeat successful stories of US cities in Ukraine

American-type decentralisation for Ukrainians. Thirty years ago, hundreds of small American towns were suffering from a profound crisis. Today, these are settlements with huge budgets, ideal roads and even their own airports.

Correspondent of the 24th Channel visited four US cities, which may boast of true success stories. He was accompanied by the heads of amalgamated hromadas, who will try to implement American experience in Ukraine. The first exclusive report from the United States features a kind of American Dream they have seen in the Wild West.

Dubuque city, Iowa, is called a Masterpiece on the Mississippi, and that is for a reason. Here one can see neat American houses, mowed lawns, clean streets, a lot of beautiful parks with ponds, open for all visitors.

Heads of the Ukrainian AHs are admiring the local scenery. They arrived in the United States to learn from Americans how to make cities economically successful and comfortable for life. The first thing that impresses is how Americans have their cake and eat it too. For instance, the embankment of the Mississippi River: it is the main place for walks, and at the same time protects the city from frequent flooding.

30 years ago, Dubuque experienced a profound crisis. The factories closed, thousands of people lost their jobs, every tenth resident left the city. However, people did not just pull it out of the abyss, but along with it hit the pages of the most influential American magazine Forbes, which for several years called the city one of the best places to work and run business in the United States.

Dubuque City Hall looks more like a business centre. It is exactly the local control system that enabled the city to jump from the bottom of the economic abyss to the Forbes’ lines. The city is managed as a large private company. In order to attract investors and workers, they have established a whole company – a so-called “Dubuque Corporation”. Today it employs 700 people. City manager Mike McClanahan has been contracted for more than 20 years and earns a lot of money for his work.

Nevertheless, the powers of the mayor are rather limited. Manager is responsible for everything – from landscaping to investments in the city.

The professional city manager solves everyday problems, while the mayor and city council are engaged in politics because they hold elected positions, said Mike McClanahan.

Such distribution of powers yields result. Investors stay in the queue to invest in Dubuque, as it has a lot of business centres, a port and even an airport. Although, the nearest metropolis – Chicago city – is only 300 kilometeres away. The Ukrainian leaders, who are studying decentralisation within the framework of the programme, are impressed by such a system.

It will be difficult to implement these American projects in Ukraine. Petro Sehediy, head of the Sofiyivska AH, claims that everything is immediately tied to money. According to him, we will approach this system in 10-15 years. Now we are moving closer to the management system, Polish management style is closer to us.

Yet one thing inspires Ukrainians for sure – this is how much the city’s outlook and revenues depend on the mayor.


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