Many American cities are still working to rebuild their economies after losing their traditional economic drivers from manufacturing and other industries over the past four decades. Revitalizing the economies of these places, particularly the most distressed, remains a key challenge and opportunity in the 21st century. In July 2011, the Obama administration launched the Strong Cities, Strong Communities (SC2) initiative, as a federal interagency pilot program aimed at revitalizing the economies of challenged cities. SC2 was part of a robust suite of place-based efforts, including the Promise Zones initiative and Sustainable Communities Regional Planning grants that leverage federal resources to strengthen neighborhoods, cities, and regions by enhancing the capacity of local governments to develop and execute economic visions and strategies.
The SC2 initiative was designed to pilot a new model of federal-local collaboration, leveraging federal investment across federal agencies in distressed cities. It offered a more flexible, targeted, tailored, and holistic approach to building local capacity in cities facing long-term challenges. Four pilot programs made up the SC2 initiative: the Fellowship Placement Pilot Program, the Community Solutions Teams, the Economic Visioning Challenge, and the National Resource Network. SC2 selected cities in two rounds. The original seven pilot cities were Chester, PA; Cleveland, OH; Detroit, MI; Fresno, CA; Memphis, TN; New Orleans, LA; and Youngstown, OH. In 2011, these cities were selected following an assessment process implemented by a team of HUD officials and consultants, with local mayoral support and participation.
In 2014, the White House Executive Council selected seven more cities: St. Louis, MO; Gary, IN; Flint, MI; Brownsville, TX; Rockford, IL; Macon, GA; and Rocky Mount, NC. Similar to those in the first round, these cities received technical advice and expertise from federal interagency teams that worked directly with local mayors and city leadership to align federal programs and help communities more effectively invest existing resources.
To find out more about the SC cities click here.