Before implementation of the pilot, Chester identified eight focus areas for the SC2 team’s efforts.
- Continuing economic diversification with a focus on retention, attraction, and creation of businesses and industries in the City of Chester
- Reducing high vacancy rates and exploring opportunities for reuse
- Reducing and preventing crime
- Engaging with relevant stakeholders on education reform
- Engaging with relevant stakeholders on access to health care
- Supporting neighborhood redevelopment
- Supporting workforce development to connect Chester residents with job opportunities
- Supporting city capacity development and identifying support from key local, regional, and state stakeholders.
The first two days of SC2 team activity were dedicated to planning and orienting the SC2 team to the city. The SC2 team later developed a work plan that very closely mirrored the city’s eight priority areas. As in most of the pilot cities, Chester identified broad areas for the SC2 team to address—economic development, crime, and education. However, it took some time to develop clarity about the roles of the city and the team members, and the SC2 team was not fully utilized for the first six months due to political turnover and lack of specific direction.
With the inauguration of the new mayor in January 2012, the SC2 team began working with the mayor to identify his priority areas. Three specific projects emerged from this effort: creating a downtown economic development and revitalization plan, securing retail space in the Chester Transportation Center, and attracting a supermarket to the city. Beyond these three projects, the SC2 team developed additional activities organically, with the SC2 team lead adding requests for SC2 team activities to the work plan as he received them from the city or team members.