As Memphis continues to give attention to urban re-development, we will see more about Strong Cities, Strong Communities and its role in helping much-needed resources reach our city.

Strong Cities, Strong Communities (SC2) is a partnership between the White House and 14 federal agencies, aimed at breaking down federal silos and helping cities facing long-term challenges build capacity and more effectively use federal funds. It is designed to help cities dictate their needs in a bottom-up approach as opposed to the top-down approach, giving better access to the federal funding each city needs.

Other cities include Detroit; Chester, Pa; Fresno, Calif.; Cleveland, Ohio and New Orleans.

The program will embed federal officials inside city government. Representatives from the departments of Education, Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, Health and Human Services, Justice, Treasury, Labor and the Small Business Administration will live and work in Memphis as part of the project. These cities were selected on the basis of economic need, local leadership, potential for economic growth and geographic diversity.

There are 4 components of SC2:

  • Community Solutions Teams: Comprised of federal employees, these teams will work in the pilot communities to build on local assets and develop stable economic growth plans by leveraging current federal funding resources. They will help communities address critical issues, such as transportation infrastructure and improved job-training programs.
  • Fellowship Program: The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has launched a pilot program that will place up to 30 fellows in the six pilot cities throughout the country, including Memphis. This program will build on the human capital present in local communities by placing mid-level career professionals in local government offices for up to two years. Fellows will provide critical support to local governments as they address key community development priorities.
  • Economic Planning Challenge: In a national grant competition, $1 million in grants will be awarded to six additional communities (not part of the initial pilot) to conduct a community-led challenge competition. With technical assistance from the Economic Development Administration (EDA), communities will invite multidisciplinary teams to submit development proposals that will stimulate local economic development. The EDA is currently seeking public input regarding the community-led challenge.
  • National Resource Network: Pending funding, this new resource will provide communities with access to a database of national experts and tools needed to successfully develop and implement and economic growth plans.

We care about our city and hope to see these valuable resources used to empower its residents!