Hamilton to apply for economic, community development initiative

Hamilton is one of 91 communities selected to apply for a federal/local initiative designed to strengthen local capacity and help communities address their economic and community development priorities.

City officials recently received a letter from the Environmental Protection Agency and the White House Council on Strong Cities, Strong Communities, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, inviting Hamilton to file a letter of interest in a 2013 SC2 Community Solutions Team with the EPA.

This week, city council approved a resolution ratifying the filing of the letter.

Launched in June 2011, Strong Cities, Strong Communities is an initiative that leverages resources from 19 participating federal agencies and sub-agencies to build the capacity of local government, encourage partnerships across sectors, help leverage existing federal investments and improve economic revitalization outcomes for participating communities.

“The initiative’s goal is to strengthen the capacity of local governments to develop and execute their economic vision and strategies,” reads the letter. “SC2 strengthens local governments by providing necessary technical assistance and access to federal agency expertise, and by creating new public and private-sector partnerships – all in support of the community’s vision and priorities.”

In the first cohort of cities, Community Solutions Teams have already been able to help communities more effectively utilize more than $345 million in existing federal funds and facilitate more than 160 cross-sector partnerships, and have played a central role in adding knowledge and skills related to economic and community development to local government.

The CSTs work in city halls with their counterparts for at least one year after the deployment to support local job creation and economic revitalization priorities.

Hamilton was identified to apply based on a set of quantitative criteria developed to capture local economic distress across a universe of approximately 1,000 places, drawing on available data from the American Community Survey and the Bureau of Labor Statistics. “Communities in this cohort are likely facing fiscal constraints that limit staff capacity,” reads the letter. “SC2 will provide support in the form of technical assistance and capacity building to assist your community in strengthening that capacity and addressing economic revitalization priorities.”

Then, in bold letters, the letter notes: “This invitation to apply does not represent any federal grant resources or the promise of new grant resources.”

Filing a letter of interest in the initiative will not impact Hamilton’s general fund, according to Colleen Taylor, the city’s law director.

However, it may help the city more effectively utilize existing federal funds, Taylor said.

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