In 2011, the U.S. federal government launched the Strong Cities, Strong Communities Initiative, a new model of federal-local collaboration designed to (i) improve how the federal government invests in cities, (ii) offer technical assistance to support local priorities, and (iii) help to coordinate funds at the local, state, and federal level. A core component of this initiative is the SC2 Team Pilot, which deployed interagency groups of federal employees—SC2 Teams—to six economically distressed cities: Chester, PA; Cleveland, OH; Detroit, MI; Fresno, CA; Memphis, TN; and New Orleans, LA. SC2 teams were comprised of a team lead and team members, the exact number of which varied by site. SC2 teams were given a mandate to partner with local leaders and provide them direct support, tailoring technical assistance and planning resources to focus on issues cities perceive as vital to their economic development. The first round of SC2 teams (referred to as the SC2 pilot) began implementation in September 2011 and finished in September 2013.
Abt Associates, in partnership with Mt. Auburn Associates, conducted an evaluation of the first 18 months of the SC2 pilot, focusing on implementation, accomplishments, and lessons to enhance future efforts. To complement the main evaluation the study produced two select topic papers to explore some findings in more detail.
This select topic paper explores promising practices from the SC2 pilot experience for building a federal workforce that is more effective in supporting economic development in distressed cities. These practices include:
- Active Problem Solving with City Stakeholders
- Gathering Local Input to Inform Federal Policies
- Interagency Collaboration around Real, Time-Sensitive Local Problems
The study team identified these practices during interviews with SC2 members. The research team asked SC2 members to discuss what they learned from their pilot experience and how those insights changed the way they were approaching their post-pilot jobs. This paper highlights specific changes mentioned by SC2 members, describing core elements of the SC2 model that brought about the new practices.
The paper ends with a section that discusses how a broader cohort of federal employees, beyond past and present SC2 members, might be encouraged to adopt the identified practices.