Biggest Little City movement gains momentum

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Biggest Little City movement gains momentum

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You won't just find the Biggest Little City emblazoned on the Reno Arch anymore. On Tuesday, major players in the Reno Tahoe area came together to throw their weight behind a growing grassroots movement to change Reno's image.

You won't just find the Biggest Little City emblazoned only on the Reno Arch anymore. On Tuesday, major players in the Reno-Tahoe area came together to throw their weight behind a growing grassroots movement to change Reno's image.

There was a lot of Reno pride to go around.

"Is Reno excited?"

"Our big, little is big events, little town."

"Big education with little holding us back."

"And we are big science, little known."

"We have big connections, little city."

"Big community, little start-ups."

"Big county, little worries."

"Big travel, little hassles."

"We are the biggest little city in the world."

These little mantras are coming from some big players. Those were the voices of the City of Sparks, the University of Nevada, Reno, the Desert Research Institute, The Chamber of Commerce of Reno, Sparks and Northern Nevada,  the Economic Development Authority of Western Nevada, Washoe County, the Reno-Tahoe International Airport and the City of Reno.

And they've all joined in this rallying cry that was started about a year ago by a grassroots group known as the Biggest Little City movement. The goal: change the negative perceptions of Reno. Led by a band of die hard locals, the campaign is an informal reclaiming of the city's identity.

Abbi Whitaker has a public relations firm and is one of the founders.

"We were letting other people tell the story of who we are," she says. "We were not telling the story of who we are, so we said, 'hey, how can we embrace who we are and how can we put that message forward?'"

Since then, Whitaker and her counterparts have gained momentum. This new partnership between a host of public and private groups has now codified their message. Whitaker says this doesn't mean that all the organizations will adopt this slogan, per se. She actually prefers to call it a movement. By getting all the stakeholders working together, though, they hope to make meaningful progress on how the region is seen.

"And we're not doing it through something that's been through a lot of revisions and through a lot of committees that someone paid a lot of money for. We're doing it through something that's always been there."

Several of the agencies involved say they're going to incorporate this message into their marketing. Meanwhile, residents are invited to submit videos to the biggest little city website describing why they choose to live here. The group is also heading up an education and public art initiative around the Truckee River and encouraging people to vote.