Obama Administration Launches Strong Cities, Strong Communites Initiative

by Chicago Agent

The Obama Administration started the Strong Cities, Strong Communities (SC2) initiative to strengthen local communities and their economies, as well as ensure that tax dollars are being used efficiently and wisely, the U.S. Housing and Urban Development Department (HUD) announced on July 11. Chester, PA; Cleveland, OH; Detroit, MI; Fresno, CA; Memphis, TN; and New Orleans, LA are the six pilot cities chosen to test the program.

Experienced staff from federal agencies will work with local governments and other institutions to leverage federal dollars and support the work being done at the local level. These six cities were chosen on the basis of economic need, potential for economic growth as well as a slew of other factors.

While this program is initially focused on these six cities, communities nationwide will be eligible to compete for comprehensive economic planning assistance through a grant competition.

“Over the past two and a half years, the Obama Administration received feedback from leaders all across the country who described the kind of partnership that would be most useful to them for economic growth,” said Domestic Policy Director Melody Barnes in a statement. “The result is Strong Cities, Strong Communities, an innovative new pilot that will help strengthen local communities while also delivering federal resources and assistance more effectively.”

The Obama Administration will focus on three key goals through this program. First, the administration plans to improve the way federal the federal government does business by rationalizing the federal government bureaucracy to help deal with the overlapping maze of agencies, programs, and regulations that are sometimes confusing for local governments. Second, the administration hopes to provide assistance and support to local communities. The place to do this by providing on the ground assistance and planning resources tailored to the local governments’ needs. Third, it hopes to develop critical partnerships with local businesses and organizations, whose reaches extend past state and municipal governments.

SC2 allows aims to encourage partnerships among local community organizations, businesses, and government agencies among others, which will help to leverage federal investments and increase impact. The components of SC2 are as follows: Community Solutions Teams which will work directly with cities to support the mayors of the six pilot cities; Fellowship Program which compliment the Community Solutions Teams to train professionals to serve multi-year terms in local government positions; Economic Planning Challenge, which is a grant competition designed to help additional cities develop economic blueprints; and the National Resource Network, which, pending authorization of funding, will aggregate public and private resources to provide more communities with access to national experts to provide policy and implementation support.

Senior Advisor to the President Valerie Jarrett said in a press release, “This is exactly the kind of federal initiative that President Obama pledged to create – one that respects the wisdom of local leadership and helps mayors and other local officials utilize federal resources more effectively. President Obama has consistently demonstrated his commitment to a robust partnership with America’s cities and counties– Strong Cities, Strong Communities is yet another example of this important partnership.”

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