Out of 91 struggling communities across the country, Rocky Mount and six others were selected this week to participate in a federal program with a record for helping spark economic growth.
“During these tough fiscal times, it is vitally important that the (President Barack Obama) Administration provides support to those cities in need,” said U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan in a telephone conference call. “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 SC2 program sends teams of experts to the selected communities to assist local officals make the vision for their cities a reality. Since 2011, SC2 has helped the seven pilot cities — Chester, Pa.; Cleveland; Detroit; Fresno, Calif.; Memphis, Tenn.; New Orleans; and Youngstown, Ohio — to more effectively utilize more than $368 million in existing federal funds and investments.
“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 Cecilia Munoz, director of the White House Domestic Policy Council. “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 specific areas Rocky Mount and federal officials will focus on have yet to be announced, but local officials are excited about the opportunity to be a part of the program.
“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 happening at an opportune time, during the implementation phase of the visioning and strategic planning process, and while housing plan efforts are underway,” Mayor David Combs said. “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.”
The other cities that were selected as the second phase of the initiative were Brownsville, Texas; Flint, Mich.; Gary, Ind.; Macon, Ga.; St. Louis and Rockford, Ill.
For more information on the Strong Cities, Strong Communities Initiative, go to http://huduser.org/portal/sc2/home.html.