Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Obama Administration Announces “Strong Cities, Strong Communities” Initiative

On July 11th, the Obama Administration announced the list of six pilot cities participating in the “Strong Cities, Strong Communities” (SC2) program – a federal initiative that bridges federal and local stakeholders in an effort to strengthen local capacities and spark economic growth in communities. The initiative will foster partnerships between federal and local governments, the private sector, faith-based institutions and various community organizations and nonprofits. Capitalizing on these collaborative relationships, the federal government will provide technical assistance to local communities seeking to leverage federal funding resources and develop plans to stimulate economic growth.

The list of communities participating in the SC2 pilot include:
- Chester, PA
- Cleveland, OH
- Detroit, MI
- Fresno, CA
- Memphis, TN
- New Orleans, LA

This federal-local “SC2” initiative includes four key components:

Community Solutions Teams. Comprised of federal employees, these teams will work in the pilot communities to build on local assets and develop stable economic growth plans by leveraging current federal funding resources. Community Solutions Teams will help communities address critical issues, such as transportation infrastructure and improved job-training programs. In Detroit, for example, the Community Solutions Team will help the community leverage funding from the U.S. Department of Transportation to build a high-speed rail system.

Fellowship Program. The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has implemented a fellowship pilot program that will place up to 30 fellows in the six pilot cities throughout the country. This program will build on the human capital present in local communities by placing mid-level career professionals in local government offices for up to two years. Fellows will provide critical support to local governments as they address key community development priorities.

Economic Planning Challenge. In a national grant competition, $1 million in grants will be awarded to six additional communities (not part of the initial pilot) to conduct a community-led challenge competition. With technical assistance from the Economic Development Administration (EDA), communities will invite multi-disciplinary teams to submit development proposals that will stimulate local economic development. The EDA is currently seeking public input regarding the community-led challenge. Click here for more information on how you can comment.

National Resource Network. Pending funding, this new resource will provide communities with access to a database of national experts and tools needed to successfully develop and implement and economic growth plans.

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