Announcing Strong Cities, Strong Communities

President Obama knows that the hard work of strengthening American communities and revitalizing the American economy happens at the local level – in neighborhood schools and community colleges, at town meetings and neighborhood associations, through new start-ups and small businesses. That’s why the White House is excited today to announce the launch of the Strong Cities, Strong Communities Initiative.

Strong Cities, Strong Communities is a new interagency pilot initiative that aims to strengthen neighborhoods, towns, cities and regions around the country by strengthening the capacity of local governments to develop and execute their economic vision and strategies. Strong Cities, Strong Communities bolsters local governments by providing necessary technical assistance and access to federal agency expertise, and creating new public and private sector partnerships. By leveraging existing assets, providing new resources, and fostering new connections at the local and national level, Strong Cities, Strong Communities will support towns and cities as they develop comprehensive plans for their communities and invest in economic growth and job creation.

For more information about this innovative new initiative and its goals, check out the launch video:

Download Video: mp4 (44MB)

As I mentioned in the video, Strong Cities, Strong Communities pilots a new approach to federal-local collaboration that allows the federal government to support efforts from the ground up in four key ways:

  1. Community Solutions Teams will leverage expertise in areas like health, education and transportation to support the six pilot cities as they capitalize on opportunities and tackle challenges
  2. A fellowship program that will place mid-career professionals in city agencies in the same six cities to work closely with the Community Solutions Teams, increasing the capacity of mayors and their staffs on key priorities
  3. A new Economic Planning Challenge grant that, through a national competition, will help additional communities – those without an economic blueprint – design a comprehensive strategy
  4. And the National Resource Network that, pending funding, will serve as a one-stop-shop for local governments to receive technical assistance from national experts with wide-ranging skills critical for promoting economic growth and resiliency.

This morning, Strong Cities, Strong Communities was announced across the country in the six pilot locations:

  • In Chester, PA, the Community Solutions Team will help Mayor Butler diversify the local economy, support small business development and revitalize the downtown.
  • In Cleveland, OH, Strong Cities, Strong Communities will support Mayor Jackson in his efforts to coordinate workforce and economic development and to maximize the economic potential of the Cleveland Port.
  • In Detroit, MI, the Community Solutions Team will partner with Mayor Bing and Governor Snyder to increase coordination and alignment on workforce and economic development issues, and to leverage U.S. DOT's investments in High Speed Rail and the Woodward Avenue light rail project to spur economic revitalization in the downtown corridor.
  • In Fresno, CA, Mayor Swearengin and the Community Solutions Team will work to capitalize on the coming high-speed rail station to improve the downtown area, and will also build on a successful neighborhood development program.
  • In Memphis, TN, Strong Cities, Strong Communities will partner with Mayor Wharton and his team to pursue his vision to strengthen the education system and attract new industries.
  • And in New Orleans, LA, Mayor Landrieu and the Communities Solutions Team will work to integrate existing federal resources to improve the delivery of health services, manage public safety and rebuild public infrastructure.

Over the coming months, with the support of Strong Cities, Strong Communities initiatives, these cities and others across the country will pursue their plans for growth and development, helping to create jobs and improve the quality of life for hundreds of thousands of Americans. We are looking forward to working with you, in your community, to win the future by building stronger and more resilient communities and laying the foundation for economic growth.

Melody Barnes is Assistant to the President for Domestic Policy and the Director of the White House Domestic Policy Council.
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