In The News

Since its launch in May 2014, the National Resource Network has garnered national and local media attention that highlights its work around the country and cites the impact of these efforts on communities. Coverage has included a focus on the Network’s beginnings, highlights of its innovative features, research it has produced, and in-depth looks at the Network’s technical assistance efforts in cities around the country. Recent coverage of the Network includes:     

New vision emerging for downtown revitalization


SCRANTON, Pennsylvania -- For many years, the city of Scranton faced a variety of challenges. It doesn’t matter whose fault it was or wasn’t. What matters is that our city and region must continue to move forward because we are all in the same boat. As the city becomes more vibrant, bustling with shoppers and people eating in local establishments, a sense of pride and optimism follows when you find a specialty item from a local merchant or enjoy a wonderful meal in your favorite restaurant.

To support the revitalization of our downtown, Scranton Tomorrow is positioned to be the economic driver for revival. During the last 12 months, Scranton Tomorrow, in association with a host of partners, including Scranton Mayor Bill Courtright, city council members, the Greater Scranton Chamber of Commerce and local legislators’ staffs, state Sen. John Blake and Lackawanna County representative, we have been meeting to identify a clear strategic vision. The process was led and supported by an independent third party, the National Resource Network.

In association with stakeholders including the University of Scranton, Lackawanna College, the mayor’s team, various corporations, downtown business owners and developers, Scranton Tomorrow’s staff and volunteers are pursuing strategies to include clean and green efforts, downtown revitalization efforts and promotional activities to attract people to the business district. In addition, we must find ways to leverage public-private partnership opportunities to support private investment in our city.

In order to support the downtown revitalization, a formal document with projects for the downtown is being coordinated so, as funding sources become available, Scranton Tomorrow will apply for grants to reinvest directly in the downtown. The vacant lot on the corner of Wyoming Avenue and Linden Street is a prime example. Working together with other parties, Scranton Tomorrow acquired $400,000 from the Keystone Communities program to revitalize the lot as a pocket park.

Without a good strategic plan and all parties working toward a common vision, that lot would have stayed an abandoned eyesore and the $400,000 would have gone to revitalization projects in other locations.

Our strategic planning and implementation effort has already resulted in tangible projects and it is our goal to have this success lead to a business improvement district to be managed by Scranton Tomorrow. As the warmer weather approaches, it is nice to see partners and stakeholders all rowing in the same direction. I expect that this trend will continue because it is easier to make progress as we all row together.

City of Rockford announces partnership with economic network


ROCKFORD, Illinois -- The City of Rockford will partner with an organization leaders say will help them make several economic improvements over the next several years. The agreement is with the National Resource Network and aims at assisting Rockford in developing a seven-year financial plan, which will focus on improving the city’s fiscal sustainability and economic competitiveness. Work on the plan is expected to be complete by September.

“While no municipality wants to face a budget crisis, it is an unfortunate reality in today’s economic climate,” Mayor Tom McNamara said in a release. “We know that if we aren’t financially stable, we won’t be able to be a good partner to our current businesses and those we want to attract.” McNamara said the National Resource Network has a proven track record working on municipal operations, funding and budgeting that will be beneficial this year and in years to come.

The city was one of 58 cities that applied for the partnership last year. Rockford met several of the network’s eligibility criteria, including population decline, poverty rates, and annual average unemployment rates. National Resource Network officials said Rockford was also approved because leaders demonstrate readiness and willingness to support a long-range plan.

The Network’s work in Rockford will focus on several key components, including the formation of an advisory committee to review the baseline for financial analysis, and the review of expenditure drivers to identify opportunities to reinvest savings to align with targeted community goals such as enhanced housing stock, reduced crime, and community and economic development.

Cleveland Heights prepares legislation for Community Development Corp


CLEVELAND HEIGHTS, Ohio -- City Council will move forward on a collaborative with the local nonprofit Future Heights to create a Community Development Corporation. The work with Enterprise through the National Resource Network began right around the time Future Heights presented a $139,000 proposal in December to run the CDC -- over and above the $30,000 it already receives separately in Community Development Block Grants for other programming.

Nobody Wins if Hartford Goes Bankrupt


For Hartford, the threat of bankruptcy is real. Other cities have structural deficits — where growth in expenditures outpaces growth in revenue. Hartford, however, also faces an immediate cash flow crisis. Structural deficits can be solved over time. Cash flow crises require immediate action so that the city can pay its bills. 

Earlier this year, the National Resource Network — a federally funded consortium of urban experts — was brought on to help Hartford identify options to achieve fiscal sustainability. As the General Assembly considers proposals to aid Hartford and the city council debates budget for the fiscal year starting July 1, here are some of our preliminary findings.

Federal agency announces recommendations for downtown Scranton revitalization


A report announced Thursday by National Resource Network designates volunteer community leadership organization Scranton Tomorrow as the city’s lead partner in a push to revitalize the downtown.

Tools to accomplish that goal could include offering businesses and property owners tax incentives, renovating and repurposing old buildings to make them more attractive to buyers and planting trees and other greenery in downtown areas, said Leslie Memolo Collins, executive director of Scranton Tomorrow. 

Failure and bankruptcy are not options for Providence


Providence faces serious economic and fiscal challenges. Last year, the National Resource Network projected that Providence has a structural budget deficit totaling $176 million through Fiscal Year 2026 - driven in part by the burden of public employee pension liabilities totaling $1 billion and additional unfunded retiree health care benefits.

It's not just Petersburg


Over the past three years, a consortium of urban experts from the private, nonprofit and academic sectors has worked to equip local governments with innovative strategies to build operational capacity, foster collaboration among stakeholders and boost competitiveness to produce economic benefits. Launched under the auspices of the White House Council on Strong Cities, Strong Communities and backed by the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the National Resource Network is the only federal program that provides comprehensive technical assistance to cities, including guidance on fiscal management. The network offers the playbook and the coach, helping city leadership set realistic priorities, goals and a starting point for the recovery process.