President Obama announces new program for struggling cities- will Stockton make the cut?

During his State of the Union speech in February, President Obama announced plans to assist the country’s most economically depressed cities. This proclamation sparked pleas from people such as Mike Fitzgerald and Congressman Jerry McNerney for the President to consider Stockton’s troubles. Moored in bankruptcy, high crime rates and crushing unemployment, it would be difficult to justify Stockton’s exclusion from any city-based assistance initiative. Now, we finally know what type of aid could be coming our way as the administration unveiled the specifics of their plan last week.

Will Barack Obama's administration be sending help to Stockton?

Will Barack Obama’s administration be sending help to Stockton?

Officially known as the Strong Cities, Strong Communities National Resource Network—or SC2 Network for short—the initiative sets up teams of executive-level professionals in select cities to help address specific issues ranging from crime to job creation to economic development. Here’s how it works: Once a city is chosen as a “promise zone,” a team of policy professionals from various federal agencies will work directly with local officials on city-identified issues or projects. In theory, these partnerships should lead to a greater leveraging of federal grant dollars and resources, increased coordination between public and private institutions, and better problem solving in general.

This new program is essentially an expansion of the administration’s original Strong Cities, Strong Communities pilot initiative (SC2) launched in 2011 (as SCL predicted in our original article on the topic). So far, SC2 has enjoyed modest successes in the handful of cities where it was piloted. For example, in New Orleans, the SC2 team helped launch a $52 million homebuyer assistance and neighborhood redevelopment program. In Youngstown, Department of Justice officials established a diagnostic center to help the police department make better use of data to increase public safety. In Fresno, SC2 facilitated the return of the city’s Social Security office to downtown.

While these are modest successes, the feedback from those on the ground has been universally positive. Local officials credit these programs with breaking down administrative silos and cutting through red tape. The experts who moved in to these cities also reported enjoying their experiences more than their regular responsibilities.

With city staff spread razor thin, leveraging federal knowledge would be invaluable, helping the city discover previously unconsidered funding mechanisms or devising economic development strategies.  Being selected for the SC2 Network certainly won’t solve all of Stockton’s problems, but I am sure City Hall will take all the help it can get.

If you are interested in reading more on the SC2 Network program, Next City has a couple of good articles, here and here.

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Categories: Community Commentary

Author:David A. Garcia

David A. Garcia founded SCL in March of 2012. He holds degrees from UCLA as well as Johns Hopkins University and currently works as the Chief Operating Officer at Ten Space in Downtown Stockton, and previously worked as a researcher/analyst for a congressional agency in Washington DC. The views expressed here are solely of the author.

2 Comments on “President Obama announces new program for struggling cities- will Stockton make the cut?”

  1. Jon Seisa
    May 6, 2013 at 3:05 pm #

    This sounds great and certainly would help.

    Another possible option to tap… Stockton leaders should also apply, as a potential candidate, to the federal “i6 Challenge” and “i6 Green Challenge” programs and grants of the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) and U.S. Dept of Energy (DOE), which are geared towards strategic development of innovative and breakthrough IP technological industries, business and entrepreneurial ventures and high-tech cluster economies for the new emergent “Knowledge Economy”, as well as the green ecosystem and environmental sustainable energy industries.

    I would certainly encourage a plan to establish Stockton as a premier urban high-tech cluster satellite to Silicon Valley, and that a viable vision of specific technological fields exclusive to the region are strategized and conglomerated into a feasible nucleus R&D and high-tech business district or “High-Tech Corridor” or “Stockton Technopolis” of activity with institution partnership, like perhaps leveraging the high intensity asset of the UOP institute in much greater expansion, as Stanford University does for Silicon Valley. Technological breakthrough fields of bio-fuels, reusable energy, agri-biotech, bio-agri business innovations, green agri-equipment and eco-friendly farm vehicles, bio-resources, agri-sciences, hydroponic technology R&D, sustainable water technologies, biohelix research, biomedical technologies, bio-genetic research, regenerative medicine, bio-med cancer research, biotech pharmaceutical research, inter-fusion tech transfer development, and so on should be considered, along with future amenities of labs, new research institutes, IP patent library and law center, world agritech expo center, world tech expo and tech resource center, international trade and commerce exchange center (world trade center), knowledge forum, international business and economic exchange centrum, etc.

    Also in Stockton, I really wish the city would co-op with Dameron Hospital to establish an aggressive vision for a direly needed state-of-the-art Dameron Biomedical University campus that goes beyond mere educational preparation for medical services and nursing careers and quantum leaps into biomedical R&D and biomedical technological developments, because all the indicators are pointing towards an opportunity and need for this to emerge in the region with the advent of the new regional $1.0 Billion California Health Care Facility, the largest prison medical facility in the nation dealing with mental health and clinical issues, and also the new VA Stockton Clinic.

    …just my 2 cents.

    i6 CHALLENGE SITE: http://www.eda.gov/challenges/i6/

    Here are last year’s recipient winners: http://www.commerce.gov/news/press-releases/2012/09/19/obama-administration-announces-winners-i6-challenge-competition-promo

    i6 GREEN CHALLENGE: http://techportal.eere.energy.gov/commercialization/initiatives/i6_green_challenge

  2. Jon Seisa
    June 8, 2013 at 3:31 pm #

    Any promising word yet on Stockton’s selection candidacy for this Obama SC2 program, one month henceforth and on the heels of the Emperor’s illustrious visitation this week to California on harvesting yet more money from Californians at private fund raisers for Democrat House seats?

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