New Network Competition to Create State Partnerships

The National Resource Network has launched a State Resource Network competition, focused on creating state-city partnerships that address economic, fiscal and other challenges. The states selected through the process will receive funding and support from the Network to establish their own State Resource Networks. The competition is funded by a grant from the Laura and John Arnold Foundation.

To coincide with the launch of the competition, the Network and the state of California announced the formation of the California State Resource Network, which will provide technical assistance to cities to meet challenges ranging from budget shortfalls to the need for affordable housing.

State Resource Networks are based on the model of the National Resource Network, initially funded by the federal government, which has provided comprehensive technical assistance to 50 economically challenged cities in 22 states since its launch in 2013. In 2015, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts launched the first pilot state resource network.

“Local governments across the nation are on the front lines of efforts to create economic prosperity, but frequently those cities that face the toughest challenges need outside help and expertise to make progress,” said David Eichenthal, Executive Director of the National Resource Network. “State governments are essential partners for these cities, and the state resource network model is an important tool for cementing that partnership.”

“As a former Lieutenant Governor and now as mayor, I know firsthand the importance of strong cities to a strong economy, as well as the critical role that states play in those efforts,” said Mitch Landrieu, Mayor of New Orleans and President of the U.S. Conference of Mayors. “The National Resource Network has already done so much to assist individual cities with their economic, fiscal, health care, housing and other challenges, and creating State Resource Networks will mean even more cities and states can work together in partnership to improve the quality of life for the people that live there.”

How State Resource Networks Work

State Resource Networks bring together states and cities to partner on issues that are most important to them. Examples of projects that can be created through a State Resource Network could include:

  • Creating a long term financial plan or working to ensure balanced budgets;
  • Developing a comprehensive affordable housing plan to address a shortage of options for low-income residents;
  • Identifying innovative workforce development strategies and roadmaps that connect hard-to-employ residents to jobs in high-growth industries; and
  • Helping to improve city service delivery in public works, education, or public safety, based on benchmarking and national best practices.

The Network has already seen great success with a State Resource Network in Massachusetts. In 2015, Massachusetts launched a pilot State Resource Network (MassSRN) with funding from MassDevelopment after identifying the approach as a comprehensive, innovative way to enhance economic competitiveness in Gateway cities. MassSRN projects are now under way in three additional cities across the state: Everett (community development and housing strategy), Pittsfield (operational review), and Worcester (strategic plan).

The competition is funded through a $4 million grant to the Network from the Laura and John Arnold Foundation. The grant will allow the Network to develop and assist in the implementation of multi-year financial plans for five additional economically challenged cities, launch the competition among states to create more State Resource Networks, and provide second-round support for up to five cities to implement their existing multi-year financial plans.

How States Can Apply

Starting today, states can apply for a State Resource Network through individual or groups of departments or agencies. States must show a readiness and willingness to partner with cities to improve their economic competitiveness and fiscal stability, and demonstrate an ability to effectively implement the State Resource Network. Applicants will be evaluated on a series of criteria, including:

  • Executive leadership commitment to program success;
  • Concentration of cities in need of technical assistance;
  • Clarity and strength of the proposed SRN program design;
  • Ability to clearly articulate how the program would benefit the state, including how it might expand or complement any existing technical assistance resources or programs;
  • Ability of the state to commit to funding 50% of the program budget; and
  • Existing partnerships that might facilitate successful implementation of the program.

Only one application per state may be submitted. The deadline for submitting applications is January 30, 2018.