In March, President Obama established the White House Council on Strong Cities, Strong Communities to guide the coordination of the Strong Cities, Strong Communities Initiative (SC2), which launched in June 2011 and is aimed at creating new partnerships between federal agencies and localities to spark economic development in communities that have faced significant long-term economic challenges. In addition to other components, SC2 embeds federal experts into the mayors’ teams in six pilot cities — Chester, PA; Cleveland and Youngstown, OH (Northeast Ohio Region); Detroit, MI; Fresno, CA; Memphis, TN; and New Orleans, LA—to help them execute their economic vision.
It has been a busy time for SC2. Just last week at the U.S. Conference of Mayors gathering in Orlando, the mayors passed a resolution supporting SC2 and calling for its expansion. At the same gathering, the Administration announced $11 million in competitive funding to support additional distressed communities beyond the six pilot cities. Of these new funds, $6 million will be used for an SC2 Economic Visioning Challenge—a groundbreaking competitive grant process led by the Economic Development Administration that will offer cash prizes for new solutions to spur economic growth and job creation in select communities. In addition, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has taken key steps to establish a National Resource Network (NRN), which will serve as an economic development resource center for communities to receive customized technical assistance, while also acting as a “one-stop-shop” on other policy and technical issues for many other communities. The NRN will aggregate public and private resources to provide a broader set of cities, towns and regions with access to a single portal for national experts and federal resources.
To help guide these various features of SC2, we’re pleased to announce the appointment of Mr. Mark Linton as the Executive Director of the White House Council on Strong Cities, Strong Communities. Mark has worked for the President in a variety of capacities for more than six years, most recently serving at HUD. He brings not only programmatic and policy experience to this new position, but a track record of building partnerships at the federal, state and local level to help communities achieve their economic development goals. We are grateful to have Mark in this role to help continue the momentum of this innovative interagency initiative.
The Obama Administration is committed to the revitalization of America’s cities, which serve as engines of innovation and our overall national economic recovery. This Administration is committed to creating jobs and helping economically distressed areas recover, and we are proud of how SC2 drives growth by redefining how the federal government works with its local partners. In the days and months ahead, we will continue to explore ways to lay the foundation for stronger urban, suburban, and rural communities through this and similar place-based approaches.
Mark Zuckerman is Deputy Director of the Domestic Policy Council. Racquel Russell is Special Assistant to the President for Mobility and Opportunity.