(At Last!) Wilmo Lands on a “Cool Places” List

A view of downtown from Wilmington’s Riverfront

Alrighty then, now we’re talking: A national lifestyle website has included Wilmington on its roster of “America’s Best Small Cities to Move to Before They Get Too Popular.”

In an assessment headlined with the back-of-hand “Philadelphia’s Philadelphia is less square than you’ve assumed,” (OK, local branding geniuses can probably come up with something better than “Philadelphia’s Philadelphia,” but it beats “Murder Town” eh?) Thrillist puts Wilmo right up there with the likes of Portland, Maine, Bozeman, Montana and Golden, Colorado as,

“Up-and-coming hotspots (think, Asheville 10 years ago), underappreciated gems, and towns where a person with verve could scratch out a cool life. Places where you can raise kids and those kids can raise dogs and those dogs can raise hell. And where, when your friends visit from the city, they take a seat on your porch and say, Damn, this is nice. What does your mortgage cost, again?”

The site graciously waived its criteria capping population at 70,000, for what it called the “magical place where hundreds of thousands of businesses can fit into a single PO box,” going on to say,

Delaware’s biggest city … has undergone massive changes in the last decade thanks to a booming job market and massive investments in the city’s cultural landmarks. Major financial institutions — J.P. Morgan, Barclays, BlackRock — have shifted jobs to Wilmington, sending an influx of young professionals (and their salaries) that has breathed new life into the city’s cultural landmarks like the Queen Theater and the iconic Hotel du Pont.

Now, Thrillist’s reporter might be stretching it a tad with the “booming job market” bit, but who wants to pick nits while we are finally putting a few points on the board?

Firestone Restaurant on Wilmington’s Riverfront has a large outdoor bar and dining area.

We’re delighted but not surprised to see Wilmington break into this kind of list, as we’ve been saying for years that both the state and our largest city need to more effectively promote itself based on exactly the kind of assets cited in the Thrillist report – namely, a phenomenal location and low cost of living – vs. playing nonstop reputational defense. Perhaps this small win will help spur officials in Dover and City Hall to put some real oomph behind a focused PR strategy beyond the First State’s borders.

The Buccinis and Paul McConnell and people behind efforts like the Mill and ZipCode Wilmington have been steadfast, true believers – and major league investors – in the city’s future, and their Job-like patience can’t be rewarded soon enough. This is good to see.

Click here to see the full Thrillist “small cities” rundown and Wilmington write up.

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