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President Barack Obama announced a new government program Thursday to promote partnerships between local communities and the federal government. With the stroke of a pen the President signed an executive order establishing the White House Council on Strong Cities, Strong Communities to ensure economic strategies are implemented at the local community level.
“Strong Cities, Strong Communities is a remarkable initiative, one that takes innovation, a determination to cut-through the red-tape and ensure taxpayer dollars are used wisely,” said Cecilia Munoz, Director of the Domestic Policy Council and Co-Chair of Strong Cities, Strong Communities.
“The Strong Cities Council will support bottom-up solutions that break down silos within federal and local governments, and will urge the private and nonprofit sectors to come up with innovate strategies to solve challenging issues.”
Six cities – Chester, Penn.; Cleveland/Youngstown, Ohio ; Detroit, Mich.; Fresno, Calif.; Memphis, Tenn.; and New Orleans, La. – were selected as the first participants in the pilot program which was launched in June 2011.
The Council will assure technical and planning resources are available to allow communities to develop their economic vision and strategies. The council will make recommendations to the President for changing federal policies and programs to support local governments and their economic growth.
The Council will also reach out to non-profit organizations, businesses, labor organizations, school districts, and faith and community-based groups in addition to working with local and state governments.
Members of 25 different federal agencies will work together to fully establish the program’s foundation before expanding it across the country. Strong Cities, Strong Communities Council is headquartered at the Department of Housing and Urban Development.
The Secretary of Housing and Urban Development and the Assistant to the President for Domestic Policy are co-chairing the council. Attorney General Eric Holder and Secretary of Defense Leon E. Panetta will join other members of the President’s cabinet, including the cabinet secretaries of Treasury, Interior, Agriculture, Commerce, Labor, Health and Human Services, Transportation, Energy, Education, Veterans Affairs and Homeland Security.
Other members of the council will include the Chair of the Council of Economic Advisers, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator, Office of Management and Budget Director, General Services Administrator, Small Business Administration Administrator, National Endowment for the Arts Chairperson, Chief Executive Officer of the Corporation for National and Community Service, Senior Advisor and Assistant to President for Intergovernmental Affairs, Assistant to the President and Cabinet Secretary, President’s Assistant on Economic Policy, the Chair on the Council on Environmental Quality and the Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy.
An executive director for Strong Cities, Strong Communities will be appointed by the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development. The executive director will coordinate the Council’s activities and, with instructions from the board, will support coordination and implementation efforts.