Federal government announces plan to assist Detroit and other urban centers

Jul 11, 2011

The Obama administration today unveiled a federal program aimed at helping cities like Detroit revitalize parts of their urban core.

The Strong Cities, Strong Communities program will target Detroit, Fresno, Memphis, Cleveland, New Orleans, and Chester, Pa.

And in keeping with federal government style, officials have given the program an acronym, SC2.

U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan unveiled the program with Detroit Mayor Dave Bing this morning.

From a HUD press release:

"On behalf of the Obama Administration, it is an honor to announce the SC2 initiative in Detroit, one of America's most unique and vibrant cities," said U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan. "This will be a new type of federal partnership for Detroit - one that will allow the city to build on its progress and further strengthen its foundation for economic growth and resiliency in a global economy."

Officials say the program seeks to cut through federal red tape by providing communities with technical assistance to ensure federal and local dollars are spent wisely.

Federal representatives will help Mayor Bing tackle issues he had identified as "vital to their economic strategies, including efforts to build on local assets, strengthen regional economies, develop transportation infrastructure, improve job-training programs and support community revitalization."

The federal representatives who will provide assistance to Detroit will come from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, U.S. Department of Labor, U.S. Department of Transportation, U.S. Department of Commerce and the Small Business Administration.

The program also seeks to establish a fellowship program that will place "early- to mid-career professionals to serve multi-year terms in local government positions to give cities additional capacity."

Funding for the fellowship program comes from the Rockefeller Foundation ($2.5 million).

From the press release, Mayor Bing said:

"Strong Cities, Strong Communities is a program that will help us make Detroit a city that works. The support of the Obama Administration is critical as we continue to strengthen neighborhoods, put Detroiters back to work and improve essential services such as transportation."