Obama Administration tasks national experts to come up with ‘transformative’ project in Richmond

Obama Administration tasks national experts to come up with 'transformative' project in Richmond

The Obama Administration is sending a team of experts to Richmond next month for a two-day visit that local officials hope will lead to solutions for the city’s affordable housing needs and the revitalization of Hilltop Mall and downtown Richmond.

In May, the city submitted an application to receive technical assistance through President Obama’s Strong Cities, Strong Communities (SC2) Initiative. The city is tapping the initiative’s the National Resource Network, a first of its kind program where leading experts from both the public and private sectors help local governments overcome economic and fiscal challenges, among other obstacles.

On Monday, Mayor Tom Butt announced that Richmond was named a finalist to receive help from The Network. For two days in July, The Network will send a team to Richmond to develop “a more comprehensive understanding of Richmond’s needs and opportunities,” according to a statement from the mayor’s office.

After the site visit, The Network will propose a project designed to have a transformative effect on Richmond. If the Obama Administration chooses to implement the project, the federal government will pay for 75-percent of its costs, the mayor’s office said.

The mayor says the most pressing challenge listed in the city’s application was providing enough affordable housing for low-income residents. Revitalizing Hilltop Mall and Downtown Richmond, keeping crime and homicide rates low, and overcoming the city’s fiscal challenges were also included.

“Richmond is at a time when we must find innovate solutions to spark economic growth and attract investment,” Mayor Butt said in the statement.

Additionally, The Network is paying for two Richmond representatives to attend a Peer Convening in Florida this week, where more than 40 communities will learn from each other and national experts.

“We are proud that the Network and the city are moving forward with the next step of the process,” City Manager Bill Lindsay said. “This effort highlights the fact that Richmond is a city poised for success.”

The Network consortium is spearheaded by five private and public sector organizations: Enterprise Community Partners, Public Financial Management, HR&A Advisors, New York University’s Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service, and International City/County Management Association.


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