Small Town America Expert Launches New Enterprise

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Barton Russell Group helps clients navigate and grow in this under-tapped market

“Most people are unaware that nearly half of all Americans live in small towns and cities with populations under 30,000 people.”

More than 34,000 small cities and towns, home to over 140 million people in the United States, too often fly under the radar. Now, one of the nation’s leading authorities on small town America is launching a consulting practice to help clients penetrate the non-metropolitan market.

The firm’s founder, Bart Russell, notes, “Most people are unaware that nearly half of all Americans live in small towns and cities with populations under 30,000 people.”

Russell is clearly an expert on this significant demographic. He previously served as CEO of the National Association of Towns and Townships, president of the National Center for Small Communities and CEO of the Council of Small Towns. Called the “voice of small town America” by one U.S. President, he has assembled a team of experts in corporate partnerships, communications, public affairs and service quality to form the new Barton Russell Group (BRG).

“BRG’s senior consultants have unparalleled talents working in this arena, and have collaborated with me over the years to help design or manage ‘main street USA’ programs and strategic alliances for Fortune 500 companies and others,” Russell said. These programs have helped clients enhance their brands and grow their businesses. They include (among others):

  • The Best Small Towns in America challenge, a community revitalization contest sponsored by a major, international distillery
  • The American Hometown Leaders Award program, a multi-year, $4 million community development grant program sponsored by a global retailing corporation
  • The National Center for Small Communities, provider of research, training and technical assistance services for local governments, launched with a $1 million investment by the world's largest package delivery company

The Barton Russell Group’s senior consultants include:

  • Ken Sternad (, who previously served for many years as vice president of worldwide Public Relations and Media Affairs for UPS, as well as president of The UPS Foundation. Ken leads BRG’s communications and public relations practice area.
  • Bruce Rosenthal (, who is a veteran of the national trade association community in Washington, DC, including the National Association of Towns and Townships. Bruce leads BRG’s strategic alliance practice area, which focuses on programs and strategies to help companies gain maximum value from collaborations with non-for-profit organizations.
  • Dave Fearon (, an emeritus business professor, is a nationally recognized "quality" expert who served as an Examiner for the Baldrige National Quality Award. He has also served as an advisor to organizations such as the National Center for Small Communities and the Council of Small Towns.

The Barton Russell Group will offer a variety of advisory and management services, including community engagement programs, hometown America marketing solutions, reputation management strategies, “main street” revitalization concepts, government and community-relations support, issues management and grassroots mobilization efforts.

In addition, using its proprietary “Discover Small Town America” platform, BRG will provide clients that have a stake in the hospitality industry and the off-the-beaten-path travel marketplace a powerful vehicle for promoting business interests, while shining a spotlight on extraordinary people and places in non-metropolitan areas throughout the country.

“People who live in America’s small towns remain an under-tapped market,” Russell said. “They offer tremendous growth and reputation enhancement opportunities for companies and organizations of all sizes, and the Barton Russell Group is the perfect partner to help them unlock this potential.”

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Bart Russell
Barton Russell Group...your connection to everything small town

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