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Oxford Named Second-Strongest Town in America

Oxford lost its bid this week to be named the Strongest Town in America.

The City of Lockport, Illinois instead took the title in the championship round of the Strongest Town contest, garnering 54 percent of the vote to Oxford’s 46 percent. The contest attracted more than 33,000 votes.  

After defeating its opponent in each of the first three rounds to advance to the finals, Oxford fell to the Illinois and Michigan Canal town, which has a population of more than 20,000 residents. 

Mayor Robyn Tannehill said, although city officials are disappointed by the results, the contest was still a positive experience.

“It was an honor to be considered with a group of communities across the country that were nominated,” she said. “Oxford is a strong town. We are a town that takes care of each other that steps up during hard years to find creative ways to support small business and help citizens while they are in need.” 

The sixth-annual Strongest Town competition featured 16 towns from across the United States, all chosen from a pool of dozens of applicants based on how their town rose to address the challenges that came with the coronavirus pandemic.

Strong Towns is a non-profit advocacy organization based in Minnesota that was founded by engineer Charles Marohn, an engineer and land use planner. Its mission is to: “Help local leaders identify the cause of decline in our cities and take action to build a stronger, financially resilient future. The Strong Towns movement is reshaping the North American development pattern with a return to bottom-up, incremental growth.” 

During the competition, Oxford, led by a team of Oxford officials including Tannehill, Oxford’s Director of Planning Ben Requet, and Jon Maynard, CEO and President of the Oxford, Lafayette County Economic Development Foundation and Chamber of Commerce, was featured by Strong Towns on a variety of platforms including its website and podcasts. 

Officials said the competition was an excellent way to promote Oxford on an international platform – sharing the towns’ story and work on issues ranging from building resiliency into the local economy to providing affordable, high quality housing to residents. Maynard said the competition was a way to bring recognition to the progress the region has made through strong cooperative leadership, which has allowed it to survive and thrive during challenging times. Each week of the month-long competition featured a new angle of Oxford – from a photo essay featuring the towns natural and man-made beauty to a podcast conversation about actions taken to help small businesses during the pandemic.