WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has announced its selection of a group of financial advisors, researchers, and consultants to provide technical assistance and advice to distressed municipalities under the federal Strong Cities, Strong Communities initiative.
"I am pleased to announce that HUD has selected a consortium that includes Enterprise Community Partners, Public Financial Management, HR&A Advisors, Inc., NYU [New York University] Wagner Graduate School of Public Service, and the International City/County Management Association, Inc., to run and operate the Strong Cities, Strong Communities National Resource Network," said Mark Linton, executive director of the initiative.
The team, selected after evaluating requests for proposal HUD requested in late January, will offer technical assistance to distressed municipalities to help them achieve job creation and economic growth, Linton said. The network will apply the experiences gained during a one-year, seven-city pilot program launched after the White House Announced the SC2 initiative in 2011.
Chester, Pa., Cleveland, Youngstown, Ohio, Detroit, Fresno, Calif., Memphis, Tenn., and New Orleans all participated in that pilot program. It helped Detroit drum up light-rail investment, and helped Fresno with details surrounding its proposed station in the planned California high-speed rail project.
The network, which will offer nationwide assistance, is funded by HUD dollars and comes at no cost to participating municipalities, a HUD spokesman said. Linton said the network partners will provide distressed municipalities with a "one stop shop" for financial and policy advice, including how to leverage assets through the use of public-private partnerships and how to improve their credit ratings to achieve lower-cost borrowing.
David Eichenthal, a director in PFM's management and budget consulting practice, said the members of the consortium had been working together for a few months and recognized that each could bring something helpful to the table for cities facing economic distress.
"We all came together," Eichenthal said. "We all see the benefit of a collaborative approach. All of us are going to be playing different roles."
Linton said he hopes the program creates a wide-ranging benefit for cities at a time of continued economic hardship.
"We look forward to working with the SC2 Network winning consortium to provide assistance to communities and cities throughout the country and fostering a spirit of cooperation and sharing that helps improve local economic competitiveness and bring jobs and make a positive, long lasting impact in the lives of hundreds of thousands of people," he said.