As smaller cities across the country grapple with poverty, unemployment, failing schools and other indicators economic distress, little time is devoted to ensuring they’re receiving the best tools and resources for better solutions.
While cities like New York and San Francisco benefit from the bright minds of Silicon Valley and other social startups, smaller communities are in need of similar solutions and ideas to restore economic recovery and growth. That’s why President Barack Obama launched the National Resource Network, a pilot program developed to be a consulting agency for policy, technical, and financial support for local governments.
The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) injected $10 million into the program, forming a network of experts with the New York University and the International City/County Management Association as well as Enterprise Community Partners, Public Financial Management Inc. and HR&A Advisors.
The goal is to spend a three-year period listening to local governments for the type of guidance and assistance they need. From there, teams will be formed to create customized strategies. Local officials will also have access to a library of resources on government reform and community development, as well as a “311 for Cities.”
What’s that, you’re probably asking? The help line will serve as an online resource for government officials to log in for help with anything from public budgeting to crime prevention. After sending an inquiry, the network will review the problem and within three days, send a response with referrals and resources. The online site is available for about 50 communities and aims to expand to hundreds more over the course of the next three years.
While larger cities continue to innovate new policies and strategies to spur more community development, economic growth, and public and private partnerships, it’s important to keep in mind the thousands of smaller cities without the same resources — but that need of the same solutions. With a one-stop shop like the National Resource Network, help is on the horizon.