The federal Strong Cities, Strong Communities Initiative (SC2) has been expanded to seven additional communities—Brownsville, Texas; Flint, Mich.; Gary, Ind.; Macon, Ga.; Rockford, Ill.; Rocky Mount, N.C.; and St. Louis.

President Obama established SC2 in 2011 to strengthen local capacity, coordinate federal investments, and spark growth in economically distressed communities.

Federal inter-agency 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,” said Shaun Donovan, secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development. “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 technical assistance that Macon-Bibb County in Georgia will receive from the SC2 team over the next year will enable community leaders to more effectively use federal, state, and local money to improve our community, said Robert Reichert, mayor of Macon-Bibb.

“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,” he said in a statement.

In another example, the SC2 team will help St. Louis advance the city's sustainability plan with the goal to make the city cleaner, safer, and healthier. Specifically, the SC2 team will provide technical assistance in city and regional planning; identify resources that might be needed for implementation; and support efforts to convene local, cross-sector partners to align work and resources. The team will focus on the Northside Regeneration Project.

The program’s pilot cities were Chester, Pa.; Cleveland; Detroit; Fresno, Calif.; Memphis, Tenn.; New Orleans; and Youngstown, Ohio. 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.

To learn more, visit the SC2 website.