In the spring of 2014, a second round of SC2 teams were deployed in seven U.S. cities: St. Louis, MO; Gary, IN; Flint, MI; Brownsville, TX; Rockford, IL; Macon, GA; and Rocky Mount, NC. The SC2 Council and its partner agencies implemented a number of the changes recommended in this report in preparation for this second round of implementation. These changes included:
- Refining the SC2 city application and selection process,
- More clearly defining SC2 team member roles,
- Developing and implementing SC2 team exit strategies, and
- Extending the reach of lessons learned from the SC2 pilot.
The following sub-sections provide short summaries of each these changes.
Refining the Application and Selection Process
The SC2 council, partly in response to the Pilot Study’s Interim Report findings, modified the way cities were selected to host SC2 teams. In Round 2, the SC2 Council ran a competition to determine the SC2 cities that were selected. Each interested city was asked to submit a written application that outlined the city’s priorities for the SC2 engagement and included a letter of support from city leadership (Mayor and/or City Manager). The Council then used a multi-stage selection process to determine the clarity of the city’s economic development vision and robustness of their plans, the capacity for implementation, and the buy-in of city leadership, city staff and relevant governmental and non-governmental key stakeholders. As recommended in the Interim Report, the SC2 Council collected all the assessment data in-house instead of asking the cities to provide it.
Council representatives also talked with city applicants regarding who from the city they should involve in implementation, what roles city staff should play in implementation, what the SC2 team members could reasonably be expected to achieve, and what the SC2 team’s limitations might be.
More Clearly Defining Member Roles
To recruit and select federal team members for second round locations, the SC2 initiative created position descriptions for team leads and team members. These position descriptions took into account the most important attributes of each role as identified during the SC2 team pilot study. These position descriptions were used to introduce potential federal team members to the roles they might play during implementation.
The SC2 Council also worked to address the challenge of matching team members’ skills to the particular needs of the second round cities by implementing an intense selection process for cities. Council members focused on closely matching the skills and expertise of SC2 team members to the needs and priorities cities described in their applications.
Developing and Implementing Team Exit Strategies
Following the timeframe of this study, the SC2 Council worked with each SC2 team to ensure that the Round 1 pilot locations would continue to have access to the technical assistance and other resources offered by the initiative. In particular, each SC2 team confirmed that senior city leadership in current pilot locations had a direct line of communication into the federal government. The hope was that these continued points of contact at the federal regional level and the SC2 Council could be used to identify innovations, best practices, and barriers that could inform federal policy. In addition to these continued lines of communication, alumni cities will have access to the learning platforms and peer-networking opportunities developed by the National Resource Network (NRN). For alumni cities, the SC2 Council will facilitate peer-learning events, like regular conference calls and webcasts, to discuss and share information regarding issues of common interest to municipal and federal leaders.
The SC2 Council will also continue to support alumni SC2 cities by providing access to additional learning opportunities developed in coordination with the NRN. The SC2 Alumni Network aims to provide SC2 cities access to ongoing match-making opportunities that may arise vis-à-vis other technical assistance or pilot initiatives, and provide an opportunity for the SC2 Council to facilitate the connection of SC2 cities to the private sector and philanthropy.
Extending the Reach of Lessons Learned
In the time following the formal evaluation period of this study, there have been a number of examples of embedding lessons learned from SC2’s approach across other agencies and cities. For example, other federal place-based initiatives were developed with significant input from the SC2 Council. In particular, Promise Zones incorporated SC2’s model and lessons learned into the design of their programs. Among other similarities, each Promise Zone will have a designated federal “Community Liaison” who serves in an inter-agency role much like the SC2 team lead.4 Additionally, HUD’s Community Needs Assessment tool was co-designed by the SC2 Council and HUD’s Office of Field Policy and Management as a mechanism for HUD field staff to do a deep-dive assessment of the inter-agency needs of high-priority communities. Finally, the SC2 National Resource Network (the Network) launched in May of 2012 in order to extend support to a larger group of distressed communities. The Network’s design was based on lessons learned from SC2’s pilot in order to further streamline federal assistance for distressed communities and create opportunities for peer to peer learning.