APRIL 11-14, 2018


America’s biggest conference for small cities.



$175 presale / $299 general admission

The Hometown Summit

The Hometown Summit is a forum to advance resilience and thriving in America’s small cities. Launched in 2017 with over 450 changemakers from 76 US cities, the Summit returns this April for three days of insights and fellowship across geographies and sectors. Addressing national challenges with local solutions, the theme of 2018’s Summit is “Own It.”

The best professional conference that I have ever attended.


I loved it. It’s not like I had low expectations for the Hometown Summit, but I was blown away by what I experienced.


Local government needs as much of this as you can provide.


I’m grateful for the reaffirmation that we … aren’t ‘going it alone’ — and now, we have a deeper and broader network in which to communicate and tackle issues to find solutions.


Completely valuable and something that I HOPE can become a model nationwide. It was a tremendous gathering of experts. Everything was relevant for me.

The Program

The Hometown Summit explores community-driven economic development across eight vectors:


Data: Smart Cities
Design: Industry and Makers
Energy: Climate Adaptation
Food: Opportunity and Impact


Health: The Community Hospital
Investment: The Startup Ecosystem
Media: History and Identity
Social: The Future of Federalism

These topics align with the Founders Summit in order to establish robust programming for practitioners and facilitate knowledge exchange across the public and private sectors. Both Summits offer mirroring and complementary formats intersecting at the Keynotes. In total, the Hometown Summit will offer: 8 keynotes, 8 plenaries, 16 city spotlight panels, 8 workshops, and 24 roundtables, plus a variety of parties, tours, and performances.



detailed schedule announced closer to date

Wednesday Evening
5:00 – Registration
6:00 – Reception
7:00 – Keynote
8:00 – Performance

9:00 – Keynote
10:30 – Session I
12:00 – Keynote
2:00 – Session II
3:30 – Session III

9:00 – Keynote
10:30 – Session IV
12:00 – Keynote
2:00 – Session V
3:30 – Session VI

9:00 – Session VII
10:30 – Session VIII
12:00 – Closing Lunch



The Hometown Summit at Tom Tom Founders Festival 2018 explores inclusive innovation and entrepreneurship in small cities, placing emphasis on ventures and concepts that yield middle class job growth and economic mobility

Data: Smart Cities

New tools offer unprecedented opportunities for local government to make better decisions, even as citizens have vastly expanded resources to engage their leadership. What are the most impactful ways in which big data, machine learning, and sensor technology are fostering justice and opportunity in small cities today, and what are the perils associated with this new age of connectivity and information?


Design: Industry and Makers

In the past 20 years, America has shed 28 percent of its manufacturing jobs, but the decline of employment isn’t the whole story. In terms of output, U.S. manufacturing has grown over the past three decades, and with technologies such as 3D printing, it has become easier than ever for small and mid-sized firms to participate in global markets. What do these trends mean for small cities, and how can cities support makers and manufacturers in their midst?
Energy: Climate and Adaptation

It has been a terrifying year for natural disasters, from wildfires to hurricanes, and we have not yet reached “the new normal” defined by global warming. Can cities make a dent in this international challenge? What can they do to mitigate the impact?
Food: Opportunity and Impact

The 21.5 million workers in the food system make up the largest employment sector in the United States. As interest in artisan and local food continues to grow, can this small business approach to food production promote middle-class job creation and intergenerational wealth? Do existing guidelines for how work in food production and service is rewarded help or hurt local entrepreneurs?
Health: The Community Hospital

As employers, innovators, and healers, health systems anchor communities. What is the role of the modern hospital today, and what role should cities have in setting priorities for these institutions?
Investment: The Startup Ecosystem

New firm creation is at a fifty year low in the United States, due in part to the concentration of lending into established businesses and of venture capital into a few square miles of real estate in California and New York. Can small cities combine new tools and traditional institutions to buck the trend?
Media: History and Identity

How do cities foster a distinctiveness of place? From Shaker furniture to Delta blues, American regions and localities have long been a rich with cultural capital, but the “feel” of a small city has more recently been defined by national franchises on the one hand, and aspirations for coastal lifestyles on the other. By embracing preservation, native materials, folkways, and architectural idiosyncrasies, how can cities cultivate unique and inclusive identities in the 21st century?
Social: The Future of Federalism

In recent years, cities have stepped forward to lead national and international innovation in areas such as gun control, paid family leave, and climate change. At the same time, state legislatures have more aggressively deployed their powers of pre-emption to nullify city ordinances. These conflicts call into question dynamics of American federalism. What are the different sides of this issue, and how can cities lead within the law?

“I met amazing people from all over the country doing great work, who have great ideas about improving their communities. Their intelligence and caring gave me hope.”


“The Hometown Summit is THE event that was needed to electrify collaborative efforts in support of small cities (and all cities). I’ve never felt energy like this, or had better conversations with inspiring leaders that led to actionable next steps, than at HTS.”


“The Hometown Summit was a wonderful experience – stimulating and educational. One of the best events I have attended in terms of real issues and real solutions.”


“The Hometown Summit was one of the best conferences I’ve ever been to, I loved the variety of topics and the range of backgrounds and experiences of the attendees.”


Hip music, beautiful scenery, and great conversation about cities… a great summit that showcased a variety of good ideas in government…and was really fun.”




Every city has emerging leaders who attack local opportunities with special creativity, focus, and impact. The Hometown Summit’s core audience consists of cohorts from 16 US cities. The goal of this approach is to create a stronger foundation for action through fellowship. Participation in each cohort is by invitation or nomination, and each cohort is designed to reflect a cross-section of public, private, and nonprofit sectors, as well as racial and ideological diversity.

Get in touch to learn more

“Honestly one of the best conferences I’ve ever attended. I felt engaged, empowered, and like I belonged to a greater community than just my own.”


“The Hometown Summit provided me just the energy I needed as I enter my second term as a local elected official. The influx of energy, enthusiasm, and new ideas for the work hit the spot!”


“I travel to many conferences about entrepreneurship and cities but this was one of the few where my curiosity was provoked and encouraged to dream about how to make a better city for everyone. It spanned beyond technology and entrepreneurship which helped me see a more proper role for those things within a city and how we might better engage peers in the public sector.”

Tom Tom Founders Festival

The second annual Hometown Summit will take place in the midst of the seventh annual Tom Tom Founders Festival, an action-packed week celebrating urbanism, creativity, and entrepreneurship in small cities, which last year drew 44,925 in attendance. Join us in historic downtown Charlottesville for seven days of terrific bands, entrepreneurs, artists, and local chefs and farmers. This is the perfect weekend to explore Charlottesville, the home of Thomas Jefferson, the University of Virginia, a legendary craft food scene, and scenic mountains and rivers.


Three Days and Three Nights.
500 Civic Innovators.
America’s Founding City.





Over 400 PARTICIPANTS from 75+ American communities.