Last week, as we reflected on the 50th anniversary of the War on Poverty, President Obama reminded us of the need to build Ladders of Opportunity for those that are working to get into the middle class. In a country as great as this one, a child’s zip code should never be what determines his or her opportunity. The government can’t fix this on its own, but it can be a much better partner in helping local leaders develop policies that improve education, protect the most vulnerable, and encourage the entrepreneurial spirit.
As part of this effort, the Administration is supporting a number of initiatives to help promote good work by local governments and create economic opportunity for those who need it most.
For example, last week, President Obama announced the first five Promise Zones; these five areas have put forward comprehensive strategies to improve economic and educational opportunities in their communities, and the federal government is helping them access resources and working as a partner to support them in achieving those goals.
The Promise Zones effort complements and builds on the successful work we have seen accomplished through the Strong Cities, Strong Communities Initiative (SC2).
SC2 is a program for cities that have a targeted need for a strong link to the federal government to help them work more effectively. It places federal officials on the teams of local mayors to help cut through red tape with federal staff on the ground and maximize the impact. These are approaches that will help us be a better partner on the local level as cities and towns across the country work to create jobs and expand opportunity.
In the two years since SC2 was announced, it has enabled its partners to more effectively utilize roughly $368 million in existing federal funds and investments. This ultimately translates into more economic revitalization investments, workforce training and job creation, improved services for the community and increased public safety.
Based on the success of the initial cities, today we announced that the SC2 Initiative is expanding to: Brownsville, TX; Gary, IN; Flint, MI; Macon, GA; Rockford, IL; Rocky Mountain, NC; and St. Louis, MO. We fully expect these new SC2 cities to produce significant results as we help them meet their economic, housing, transportation, public safety and public health goals.
We know that there are many cities throughout the country that could benefit from the SC2 Initiative; and while we cannot deploy an SC2 team to every city, we are committed to providing local governments with the expert assistance they need. That’s why in the coming weeks we will also launch the SC2 National Resource Network (SC2 Network), which will serve as a center through which experts will work with local leaders to identify practical solutions, share real-world expertise and best practices, and help cities develop the tools and strategies they need to grow their economies and more effectively use existing federal investments.