New Solutions for Cities

Across the U.S., many cities are challenged by a range of mounting issues such as growing poverty, high unemployment, poor performing schools, aging infrastructure and vacant and blighted properties. These symptoms of economic distress are often accompanied by symptoms of fiscal distress as well, leaving cities without the tax base or resources to address economic challenges or provide basic services that enhance quality of life.

The National Resource Network (the Network) knows that cities are, and will continue to be, the key building blocks to American prosperity and the places where families live, work and thrive. The Network partners with American cities that are rounding the corner from major economic challenges to help them identify and implement new and practical solutions to facilitate their path to economic recovery and growth. The Network provides three core services:

  • Support for Implementing Solutions: The Network deploys teams of private and public sector experts to work with cities on-the-ground to implement locally identified projects and initiatives that will deliver economic benefits in the near term. Network teams also work to build local capacity and leadership for the future. 

  • Access to Peer Networks and New Ideas: The Network convenes and connects local leaders to their peers and other experts solving similar problems across the country. Through structured peer networks, the Network empowers creative, collaborative problem solving targeting the toughest economic challenges facing America’s cities. The Network also generates real time analysis and policy recommendations that can inform local, state, and federal action.

  • On-Line, On-Demand Access to ExpertiseThe Network’s website provides an unprecedented on-line library of toolsresources, and technical assistance opportunities that support and enhance the work of local leaders. It also has launched the country’s first “311” resource for public agency staff working on fiscal, economic, and community development issues in cities across the country.  

Since its launch in 2014, the Network has partnered with more than 50 cities in 22 states across the country to overcome significant challenges – including population decline, poverty, access to health care, and unemployment – and to increase their overall economic competitiveness. In addition, the Network has focused on increasing partnerships between state and local governments, launching a pilot State Resource Network with the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and a California State Resource Network.

In 2017, the Network received a $4 million grant from the Laura and John Arnold Foundation to expand on the Network’s early successes, with a particular focus on:

  • Developing and assisting in the implementation of multi-year financial plans for five additional economically challenged cities;

  • Launching a competition among states to create more State Resource Networks, increasing the ability of states and cities to collaborate to address economic challenges; and

  • Providing second-round support for up to five cities to implement their existing multi-year financial plans.

The Network continues to explore new opportunities to bring its proven model to additional cities around the country.