May 03, 2013 at 09:00 AM EDT
Working Cities Challenge Encourages Collaborative Leadership
Public, Private, Non-profit Leaders Create New Opportunity for Cities

BOSTON, May 3, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Public, private, and non-profit leaders across Massachusetts are teaming up to help resolve economic issues in smaller cities – and they're challenging leaders in those communities to do the same.

Joined by representatives from 20 Massachusetts communities, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston President Eric Rosengren, Living Cities President Ben Hecht, Massachusetts Competitive Partnership President Dan O'Connell, and Department of Housing and Economic Development Secretary Gregory Bialecki today launched the Working Cities Challenge: An Initiative for Massachusetts Smaller Cities.

"Boston Fed researchers have compared cities across the country and identified collaborative leadership – the ability to work together across sectors over a sustained period with a shared vision – as a crucial factor driving the economic recovery of smaller cities," said Boston Fed President Eric Rosengren. "We believe that loss of a manufacturing base does not mean loss of assets, and we want to support these cities as they move toward greater economic prosperity."

Modeled after Living Cities' signature effort, The Integration Initiative (TII), the Working Cities Challenge pushes cities to tap the wisdom of all sectors to develop a transformative project that will bring deep and lasting change. Massachusetts is the first state to adapt The Integration Initiative model at the regional level.

"The primary aim of The Integration Initiative was to work to improve the lives of low-income people at scale. Increasing prosperity at the population level requires systematic, not programmatic, solutions. We need more public-private cooperation, collaboration, and investment aimed at removing the barriers that are holding back our smaller and medium sized cities," said Ben Hecht, President and CEO of Living Cities which will provide $600,000 of the funding from its members, and includes a special $300,000 grant from longtime member Bank of America. "We hope that Massachusetts is the first of many states that will adopt this model."

While winning cities' awards will top $1 million in grant money, all participating cities stand to benefit by gaining technical assistance and peer-city advice; capacity-building and planning resources; access to new sources of capital, including grant funding and flexible debt; and exposure to a growing network of public, private, nonprofit, and philanthropic leaders. Winning cities will be selected by an expert panel that does not include representation from the Boston Fed.

"The Patrick-Murray Administration is committed to growing Massachusetts through investments in education, innovation and infrastructure, and these investments work best when government, private business and academia team together," said Greg Bialecki, the Secretary of Housing and Economic Development. "Through the Working Cities Challenge, we are ensuring that our combined efforts are reaching smaller cities in Massachusetts and creating economic opportunity for everyone."

Dan O'Connell, President & CEO of Massachusetts Competitive Partnership, added, "The Massachusetts Competitive Partnership is committed to job growth and competitiveness. The Working Cities Challenge supports economic development in all regions of the state."

More information about city proposals, stages of the Working Cities Challenge, and the selection committee will be available at www.bostonfed.org/WorkingCities and people are encouraged to follow the Challenge on twitter at @WorkingCities.

Partner Organizations

About the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston
As part of the nation's central bank, the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston promotes sound growth and financial stability in New England and the nation. The Bank contributes to local communities, the region, and the nation through its high-quality research, regulatory oversight, and financial services, and through its commitment to leadership and innovation. The Boston Fed, the First District of the Federal Reserve System, serves the New England region - Connecticut [except Fairfield County], Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont. For more information, visit www.bostonfed.org and follow @BostonFed.

About Living Cities
Founded in 1991, Living Cities is an innovative philanthropic collaborative of 22 of the world's largest foundations and financial institutions.  Living Cities blends the collective financial resources of its members and deploys their collective knowledge and experience to improve the lives of low-income people and the cities where they live.  Since its establishment, Living Cities has invested almost $1B in affordable housing, community facilities, and the creation of economic opportunity across the US. For more information, please visit www.livingcities.org.

For more information contact:

SOURCE Federal Reserve Bank of Boston; Living Cities

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