Today the Obama Administration announced it is expanding the Strong Cities, Strong Communities (SC2) Initiative to include Brownsville, TX; Flint, MI; Gary, IN; Macon, GA; Rockford, IL; St. Louis, MO; and Rocky Mount, NC. President Obama established SC2 in 2011 as an innovative and flexible program designed to strengthen local capacity, coordinate federal investments, and spark growth in economically distressed communities. The SC2 Initiative was developed through engagement with mayors, Members of Congress, foundations, nonprofits and other community partners who are committed to addressing the challenges facing local governments as they work to create economic opportunity for all residents.
Federal inter-agency expert teams will be deployed to work alongside city leadership, community organizations, local businesses and philanthropic foundations to support the cities'visions for economic growth and development. The primary goal is to help these cities more effectively invest existing resources, provide advice and expertise in support of local priorities, better align federal programs and investments, and facilitate new partnerships and peer learning opportunities wherever possible. In addition, AmeriCorps VISTA members will aid this effort as on-the-ground liaisons with local leaders and citizens to help implement the solutions that meet these communities' needs.
"During these tough fiscal times, it is vitally important that the Administration provides support to those cities in need," stated HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan."The support provided by the Strong Cities, Strong Communities Initiative is helping local leaders maximize every dollar to spur economic growth, create jobs, and build stronger and safer communities."
"The goal is to help position these communities to be more economically competitive, which ultimately will create better opportunities and improve the lives for their residents," said DPC Director, Cecilia Muñoz. "The expansion of the Strong Cities, Strong Communities Initiative to these seven new cities is based on the success and proven track record that the SC2 Teams have had, and we hope to repeat that success."
The SC2 Teams will aim to duplicate the record of success established in the original pilot cities: Chester, PA; Cleveland, OH; Detroit, MI; Fresno, CA; Memphis, TN; New Orleans, LA; and Youngstown, OH. SC2 Teams enabled those communities to more effectively use more than $368 million in existing federal funds and investments. They also provided advice and expertise that have helped these communities make significant progress toward their priorities in economic development, housing, transportation, public safety, and public health, among other areas.
"With help from the White House and Strong Cities, the City of St. Louis will be better positioned to create a more socially, economically and environmentally sustainable city," said Francis Slay, Mayor of St. Louis, Missouri. "Leveraged with our strong support from private and public sectors, SC2 will help us accelerate our economic and community development vision, build strategic partnerships between government and industry, and make more efficient and effective use of taxpayer-funded federal resources."
"Our selection is a testament to our community's public and private sector commitment to accomplish together what we can't do alone," said Lawrence Morrissey, Mayor of Rockford, Illinois. "As our citizens know, we have tremendous challenges, but we also have tremendous resources. Our partnership with the White House and the Strong Cities program will help us maximize and leverage our resources to address challenges across our community involving crime, housing, education, economic development, and unemployment."
"Our community is eager to meet and work with the Community Solutions Team assigned to assist Brownsville with the development of a comprehensive plan focused on wellness, education and economic development,"said Antonio "Tony" Martinez, Mayor of Brownsville, Texas. "We are confident the assistance provided will facilitate a model for other cities across the nation."
"Participation in the Strong Cities, Strong Communities Initiative will not only strengthen our community now, but will pave the way for lasting relationships with federal government officials. And, it is all happening at an opportune time, during the implementation phase of the visioning and strategic planning process, and while housing plan efforts are underway," said David W. Combs, Mayor of Rocky Mount, North Carolina. "The team's expertise is needed now more than ever, and residents in Nash and Edgecombe counties should be excited to see what we believe will be outstanding results."
"SC2 will bring additional capacity to the implementation of the new Master Plan for a Sustainable Flint and to the innovative work being done here to improve economic opportunity, neighborhood safety and community quality of life for all of Flint's residents, businesses and students," said Dayne Walling, Mayor of Flint, Michigan."Flint is transforming into a diverse 21st Century city and SC2 engagement will speed our progress."
"This represents an important tool in the creation of a better Gary, a city that is designed to provide the best government that tax dollars can buy," said Karen Freeman-Wilson, Mayor of Gary, Indiana. "This not only represents a partnership with the federal government, but the strengthened engagement of our local educational institutions, local medical providers, local foundations, local non-profits and corporate partners. It is our collective goal to be the hardest working SC2 team in the history of the program."
"As we continue to work in all of our neighborhoods, the technical assistance that Macon-Bibb County will receive from the Strong Cities, Strong Communities team residing here over the next year will enable us to more effectively use federal, state, and local money to improve our community," said Robert Reichert, Mayor of Macon-Bibb, Georgia. "From extending our runway, to attacking blight in our neighborhoods, to attracting businesses and industries of all sizes in to a sustainable urban core, this initiative will have a huge impact on our future."