Editorial Note: This post was originally published on the
White House blog.
One year ago, the
President established the
White House Council on Strong Cities, Strong Communities (SC2)
that established an innovative new model of federal-local collaboration dedicated
to assisting communities get back on their feet and create jobs by helping them
better leverage federal resources and form key partnerships to implement
economic visions. Teams of federal employees are embedded with seven Mayors
across the country to provide tailored technical assistance to cut through red
tape, increase government efficiency, and build partnerships to help local
leaders implement sustainable economic plans.
A year later, we have learned a
lot about collaboration, team work, and how the federal government can support
local communities working as a team to get things done.
These lessons are outlined in
the Strong Cities,
Strong Communities Annual Report, which describes the impact of
the SC2 Initiative and identifies emerging innovations that have the potential
to be applied to many other communities working to strengthen their economies
and job creation at the local level.
At a time when communities must
accomplish more with every dollar of investment, SC2’s work in its first few
years has already enabled communities to maximize the impact of more than $345
million in existing federal funds.
In addition to helping local
governments tap into federal expertise, the work of the SC2 teams in pilot
cities has identified best practices that will improve how the federal
government partners with many other communities to support job training,
economic development, safer neighborhoods, and improved public health
outcomes. The work has also demonstrated the value of cultivating deeper
public-private partnerships, especially with businesses and philanthropy, as
city governments look for new models to expand their capacity to serve
More recently, in his State of the
Union address, the President proposed to align his signature
revitalization initiatives to ensure that federal programs and resources are
focused on 20 communities that are suffering the most from the effects of the
recession. As these “Promise Zones” are
designated, SC2 will contribute to this effort, by helping local leaders
navigate federal programs, cut red tape, use federal resources more
effectively, and provide technical assistance.
As Co-Chairs of the White House
Council on Strong Cities, Strong Communities, we are proud of what SC2 has
achieved to date and are excited for the work that lies ahead. In the
coming months, SC2 will expand to additional cities, support the President’s
proposal to designate “Promise Zones,” and announce the selection of an Administrator
for the SC2 National Resource Network—a one-stop portal for communities seeking
additional expertise to address their challenges.
With all of these efforts, SC2
is demonstrating that the federal government can be a strong partner to
communities and local leaders. This partnership is especially critical to
building ladders of opportunity for those working hard to make it into the
middle class and stay in the middle class.
For a fuller picture of the SC2
initiative, feel free to read the entire report (click here to
download), but some of the highlights include:
CHESTER: The SC2 team helped facilitate an investment by a
Philadelphia-based food-bank, Philabundance, to provide residents with
low-cost, nutritious food in a supermarket-style food bank, addressing a major
impediment to attracting investment and growth in the community. The project
broke ground in late September 2012 and will provide the first new grocery
store in the City for over a decade.
CLEVELAND: The SC2 team and NASA, working with the City, County, and the
Manufacturing Advocacy & Growth Network, selected nine medium- to
small-sized companies to receive a total of 400 hours of subject matter
expertise and access to $450K in low-interest loans, which will allow them to
grow their business and hire more employees.
DETROIT: The SC2 team worked with the City of Detroit and the M-1 Rail
investors to facilitate partnerships and lay the groundwork for a light rail
system along the Woodward Corridor. M1-Rail is a consortium of Detroit area
corporate business ventures, foundations and public and private institutions,
which are committing over $100 million in funding to build and operate a 3.3
mile modern streetcar system on Woodward Avenue, the region’s primary
north-south thoroughfare. The project aims to link downtown
Detroit, the region’s largest employment center, with the rapidly developing
Midtown and New Center neighborhoods to the north, serving destinations such as
Tiger Stadium, the Detroit Institute of Arts, and Wayne State. USDOT has
pledged $25 million towards construction of the project.
FRESNO: The SC2 team identified the opportunity to re-route the planned
Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) line through the City’s top priority area for downtown
revitalization, which will also host the Nation’s first high-speed rail
station. The new location will create a vibrant downtown transit-corridor that
will help the Fresno maximize the economic impact from the BRT line and better
leverage multiple federal investments.
MEMPHIS: The SC2 team helped the City address small business funding needs
in the community through the establishment of the Economic Growth and
Development Engine (EDGE). Developed by the City and Shelby County with
technical assistance from the Small Business Administration (SBA), EDGE and its
associated entities are capitalized at $16 million and include an Imprest Fund
for smaller loans and a Growth Fund for needs exceeding $100,000.
NEW ORLEANS: The SC2 team provided technical support to the City that
accelerated the launch of a $52 million homebuyer assistance and neighborhood
redevelopment initiative. This assistance reduced a significant amount of red
tape, and helped get the funding out into the community. To date, more than 220
first-time home buyers have closed on homes through the initiative.
YOUNGSTOWN: The SC2 team worked with the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ)
to establish a Diagnostic Center to improve public safety by using data to
gauge the scope of community challenges, recognize trends, establish baselines,
and determine data-driven strategies to increase public safety.
Shaun Donovan is the
Secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban
Development. Cecilia Muñoz is Director of the White House Domestic Policy