A Model of Collaboration: White House Council on Strong Cities, Strong Communities

Last week, President Obama announced the creation of the White House Council on Strong Cities, Strong Communities —a new federal-local pilot that removes federal agency silos and allows federal government officials to work side-by-side with local leaders to create jobs, improve the business climate, and address local and regional challenges.

The SC2 Council will further the pilot’s work to develop creative ways to improve the way the Federal government engages with and supports local communities.  By better aligning resources and engaging leaders across executive departments and agencies, communities across the country will have greater access to comprehensive, coordinated and customized technical assistance and planning resources to develop and implement their economic vision and strategies.

Last week,  White House officials held a meeting with SC2 stakeholders to mark the six-month anniversary of teams operating on the ground in the six pilot cities, which includeChester, PA, Cleveland and Youngstown (Northeast Ohio Initiative), Detroit, Fresno, Memphis, and New Orleans. Local leaders, including SC2 Mayors Dave Bing, Mitch Landrieu, John Linder, Ashley Swearengin, and A C Wharton; city government staff; Federal agencies; members from SC2’s Community Solutions Teams; and our partners in the business, philanthropic, and non-profit communities, among others, compared notes and discussed their appreciation for the strong new federal-local partnership.

Strong Cities, Strong Communities has over 80 Federal employees directly supporting our six pilot cities. Community Solutions Teams work closely with local, regional, and national non-profits and philanthropies to help communities strengthen local capacity to create jobs, foster more competitive business climates, implement locally driven community and regional planning approaches that lead to sustained economic growth, and ensure that Federal assistance is more efficiently provided and used. Another important element of theSC2 pilot is the Fellowship Program, launched last month and accepting applications until March 30.

Taken together, the SC2 Council, the Community Solutions Teams on the ground, the Fellowship Program, and other features of the pilot are reinventing the way that the federal government partners with local communities. This new partnership is laying the foundation for a brighter economic future for our nation, neighborhood by neighborhood.

Mark Zuckerman is Deputy Director of the Domestic Policy Council.

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