Fresno Strong Cities, Strong Communities Initiative

President Obama and city mayors at the March 2012 SC2 Convening. (Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearingen is second from right.)

Strong Cities, Strong Communities (SC2) is a federal interagency collaboration begun in 2012 that aims to build the foundation for economic transformation by aligning federal resources and increasing the capacity of Fresno city government to implement the Mayor’s plans for economic growth and revitalization.

As the lead agency in the Fresno pilot initiative, EPA is meeting its mission to protect human health, land, air, and water by supporting the Mayor's goals of redeveloping downtown Fresno and reversing decades of growth outward into some of the world’s most productive agricultural land.

A Community Solutions Team (CST), originally comprised of 23 full and part time federal employees from 12 federal agencies, has been partnering with the Mayor’s Office in a place-based strategy. They are changing the way the federal government does business by providing intensive interagency technical assistance tailored to Fresno’s needs. As of 2013, ten federal agencies and 16 full and part time federal employees continue to contribute to this initiative.

Current view of the Fulton Pedestrian Mall in downtown Fresno.

SC2’s place-based model recognizes the rich assets and unique challenges of each city. Fresno faces interlocked, long-term challenges, such as high rates of unemployment, an underdeveloped infrastructure, and a high concentration of poverty. Fresno was chosen as a pilot site for SC2, one of only six communities nationwide, because of the many assets it possesses, including strong local leadership and its potential for economic growth. By working together with the city, philanthropic community, and other regional partners, the CST will find the collaborative solutions that will allow Fresno to thrive in the 21st century.

Under the City of Fresno’s leadership, the CST is working to help the City achieve its economic development and community revitalization vision. The federal initiative recognizes the value of the City’s strategic plans to revitalize its economy and seeks to build upon the City’s efforts.


Scope of Project

The Fresno Pilot will focus on addressing these community issues:

  • Downtown Revitalization: Develop/implement the Downtown Neighborhoods Community Plan and Fulton Corridor Specific Plan
  • Business Development: Expand value-added food/ag businesses through development of industrial infrastructure and small business support
  • Economic Development: Assess feasibility and develop funding strategy for components of food hub, such as a downtown Public Market
  • High Speed Rail: Station area planning that emphasizes transit connectivity
  • Transportation: Accelerate City’s Bus Rapid Transit project and identify high capacity transit upgrades
  • Land Use Planning: Fund convening of mayoral task force to develop strategies for the financing of public infrastructure and services that would support increased infill development
  • Neighborhood Revitalization: Help the City evaluate its Lowell Neighborhood revitalization pilot and expand it to additional Fresno neighborhoods
  • Resource Management and Sustainability: Provide technical assistance to advance the City’s renewable energy goals, particularly as they relate to bio-gas and economic development
  • Workforce Development and Adult Education: Support City’s Learn2Earn initiative and increase work skills and job placement
  • Homelessness: Assess homelessness planning/policy and build capacity of Fresno’s service providers to strengthen services

Federal Partners

  • Environmental Protection Agency, SC2-Team Lead 
  • Department of Housing and Urban Development
  • Department of Health and Human Services
  • Department of Transportation
  • Department of Agriculture
  • Department of Commerce
  • Corporation for National and Community Service
  • White House Office of Science and Technology Policy*
  • Department of Energy
  • Department of Labor*
  • General Services Administration
  • Small Business Administration

* Participated in 2012 only

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