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St. Louis Chosen As 'Strong City'

(Via Flickr/Mandalit)

St. Louis is one of seven cities that the Obama administration chose in the second wave of its Strong Cities, Strong Communities Initiative.

As a result the city will get a full-time federal employee who will work out of Mayor Francis Slay’s office for at least a year.

A team of federal employees and fellows also will provide technical assistance and inter-agency support.

The goal is to push economic development forward in struggling cities.

U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan said in a conference call Thursday that eligible cities had experienced decades of disinvestment.

He said of the 91 cities that met the criteria, 51 applied.

But Donovan said the seven cities chosen demonstrated they have a plan for moving forward.

"There had to be a clear vision and strategy about what they wanted to achieve and a clear sense that we at the federal government could add value there," Donovan said.

St. Louis officials highlighted the city’s Sustainability Plan and the Northside Regeneration Project.

Mayor Francis Slay’s deputy chief of staff Mary Ellen Ponder said winning the initiative is big for the city.

"These are visions and plans and strategies that cannot be accomplished by city government alone or by federal government alone," Ponder said. "It needs neighbors and citizens and the business community and the philanthropic community that are listed in that huge plan and that huge Northside Regeneration vision."

She says city officials will work with a team over the next few months to figure out specific projects.

Ponder says a full-time federal employee will be embedded with the mayor’s office beginning in March. A team of federal employees and fellows will work with the city to offer technical advice and inter-agency assistance.

Ponder said that will help the city maximize federal dollars it’s already getting.

The other cities chosen for the initiative include Gary, Ind.; Flint, Mich.; Brownsville, Tex.; Rockford, Ill.; Macon, Ga.; and Rocky Mount, NC.

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Maria is the newscast, business and education editor for St. Louis Public Radio.