This week, the Obama administration renewed its commitment to the economic viability of the nation’s cities and local regions with the launch of the Strong Cities, Strong Communities (SC2) initiative.
Strong Cities, Strong Communities provides targeted assistance to six cities in need of an economic boost.
The program is designed to bridge the gap between federal resources and local expertise to minimize bureaucracy, provide support to mayors, and encourage economic planning and regionalism. Strong Cities, Strong Communities plans to meet these goals through fellowships, community-oriented teams, and competitions for federal dollars.
Cities participating in the initiative include Cleveland, Detroit, Memphis, New Orleans, Fresno, California, and Chester, Pennsylvania.
The mayors of each city are heavily involved in the program and worked with federal officials to determine needs prior to their selection.
After the announcement of the initiative, White House officials reiterated President Obama’s original commitment to economic growth and recovery at all levels of government.
“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,” said White House Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett.
“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.” Jarrett added.
There are four components to the SC2 program. The SC2 Community Solutions Teams will work directly with mayors on a list of important projects such as job training or transportation issues.
The SC2 Fellowship Program will identify strong entry-level and/or mid-level talent to place them in local government jobs. A $2.5 million grant from the Rockefeller Foundation is providing the initial money for the positions.
In addition to those programs, the SC2 Economic Planning Challenge will encourage the six pilot cities and others to develop city and regional economic plans through a competition. The six winners will receive $1 million to encourage further development of land-use plans in each city.
The final program is the National Resource Network that will act as an intermediary between local expert consultants and cities and towns to provide training.
White House Domestic Policy Director Melody Barnes explained why the Strong Cities, Strong Communities initiative started now.
“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,” Barnes said.
“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,” she added.