New Federal Partnership Will Help Strengthen Fresno’s Economy

Mayor Ashley Swearengin praised the federal government for “answering the City of Fresno’s call for help” in achieving its economic development and community revitalization vision by selecting Fresno to participate in a new pilot initiative announced today by the Obama Administration.

Fresno was one of only six cities nationwide to be selected to participate in the Strong Cities, Strong Communites initiative. The other cities are Chester, PA; Cleveland, OH; Detroit, Mich.; Memphis, TN; and New Orleans, LA.

“Fresno is honored to be one of six cities involved in the Strong Cities, Strong Communities pilot initiative,” Mayor Swearengin said at a news conference today, where she was joined by government, business, community and nonprofit leaders.

“This federal effort recognizes the value of the strategic planning that we’ve already begun to revitalize our economy and our city. We’ve made significant progress in our efforts, but there is still much more to be done. We’re thankful to the Obama Administration for becoming our partners in growing our economy and strengthening our community through the Strong Cities, Strong Communities initiative.”

In launching the initiative, the Obama Administration said federal agencies will provide experienced staff to live in Fresno and work directly with local government, the private sector and other institutions to leverage federal dollars and support the work being done at the local level to encourage economic growth and community development.

In Fresno, a Community Solutions Team comprised of federal employees from several different agencies will work with City officials in areas identified as vital to the city’s economic strategies, including expanding and attracting industrial businesses, developing transportation infrastructure, supporting downtown and neighborhood revitalization, and improving adult education programs.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will serve as the lead agency for Fresno’s team, which will work closely with the Mayor’s staff on downtown planning and redevelopment and aligning transportation and community investment to encourage smart, sustainable growth. EPA will commit a full-time staff member to the Fresno effort.

EPA's four decades of experience have taught us the value of working directly with communities," said EPA Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response Assistant Administrator Mathy Stanislaus. “Through the SC2 Initiative, federal agencies are working together to provide the knowledge and support that helps communities achieve their development goals.”

Other agencies expected to commit a full-time team member to the Fresno effort include:

The Economic Development Administration will work with the Mayor’s Office to strengthen and implement the city’s economic development strategy.

The Department of Transportation will align transportation infrastructure with the City's broader revitalization strategies and will work closely with the City and the California High Speed Rail Authority to ensure the successful implementation of the high speed rail initiative. DOT will also work with the City on its Bus Rapid Transit program.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture will concentrate on strengthening and expanding the region's food industry, as well as strengthening city-county coordination throughout the San Joaquin Valley through the Smart Valley Places initiative.

The Department of Housing and Urban Development will both work on economic development planning and ensure that the City remains closely connected to ongoing HUD projects and is able to utilize HUD resources.

The Fresno team also will include part-time staff members from the Department of Health and Human Services, the Minority Business Development Agency, the Department of the Interior and the Department of Labor. The Agriculture Department’s Fresno-based staff members will provide additional support for the team.

In addition, the federal government also will commit early- to mid-career professionals to serve multi-year terms in local government positions through a fellowship program. The Fellows will be selected through a competitive national process, and the program will be funded primarily by philanthropic partners.

According to the Obama Administration, cities were selected to participate in the pilot program based on economic need, strong local leadership and collaboration, geographic diversity and the ability to test the Strong Cities, Strong Communities model across a range of environments.

(NOTE: Some information in this news release was provided by the White House Office of Communications. A link to the White House news release is here.)

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Click here to view photos of the Strong Cities, Strong Communities announcement.