NEW YORK, June 22, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- The Citi Foundation and Living Cities today announced the expansion of the City Accelerator program to five additional U.S. cities – Charlotte, Chicago, Los Angeles, Memphis, and Milwaukee. The five cities will work together over the next year to refine their approach to procurement spending, pursuing at least one new strategy to increase the diversity of municipal vendors and contractors and direct more spend to local minority-owned businesses. This collaboration supports the goal of City Accelerator, to support innovative local government projects within and across cities that have a significant impact on the lives of residents, especially those with low incomes.
"These cities are taking a hard look at how they purchase goods and services for their communities," said Ed Skyler, Citi's Executive Vice President for Global Public Affairs and Chairman of the Citi Foundation. "They recognize that there is an opportunity to strengthen their procurement practices – and cities overall – by connecting directly with the diverse businesses and ideas within their communities. We are excited to see the ideas and approaches that come from this year's City Accelerator."
To date, City Accelerator has worked with 12 municipalities in the U.S. to test new ways to drive sustainable growth while increasing opportunity for lower-income residents. For example, the city of Philadelphia tested the use of various messages and attention-grabbing mailings to ensure that low-income seniors were signing up for subsidies offering a 25 percent reduction in their water bills. As a result of financial and technical assistance provided by City Accelerator, participation in the program doubled, and hundreds of Philadelphia's most vulnerable seniors are now receiving a discount that will make managing their household bills easier. Philadelphia's success with City Accelerator led to the launch of GovLabPHL, a multi-agency team headed by the Mayor's Policy Office focused on developing innovative and evidence-based practice in city government.
The city of San Francisco is using its City Accelerator support to develop a financing plan to reinforce the city's coastal seawall, which protects vital public transportation assets and land designated for affordable housing on a parcel adjacent to the Port of San Francisco.
"By opening up the procurement process to small and diverse businesses owned by people of color, cities have an incredible opportunity to realize the publics' vision of a thriving, vital economy," said Ben Hecht, President and CEO of Living Cities. "These five cities were asked to lead the way, and we are excited to lift up their work as examples of how we can create a new urban practice dedicated to getting dramatically better results for low income people faster."
"The City of Charlotte is committed to providing equal access and opportunities for all businesses to grow, especially businesses owned by people of color," said Charlotte Mayor Jennifer Roberts. "Through the City's Charlotte Business INClusion Policy, we have made significant strides, achieving $41 million in spending with local Minority, Women, Small Business Enterprises in Fiscal Year 2016. I am proud of our accomplishments to date, and I look forward to working with the Citi Foundation and Living Cities to accelerate our work in this area. The expertise and funding from City Accelerator will help us grow our small, women- and minority-owned businesses."
"My administration has made it a priority to create opportunities for businesses of all sizes to grow and thrive while strengthening our procurement processes," said Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel. "Our selection by the Citi Foundation and Living Cities as one of five cities to participate in this program reflects the fact that Chicago is a national leader in procurement reform, and I commend our Chief Procurement Officer and her team for pursuing new opportunities and partnerships that will continue to strengthen our procurement practices and ensure those who do business with the City reflect Chicago's rich diversity."
"Los Angeles is a city of opportunity, and we are committed to connecting Angelenos to the good-paying jobs being created every day in our resurgent economy," said Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti. "City Accelerator will help us explore ways to increase equity among City contractors, and support our small business community. I thank Citi Foundation and Living Cities for engaging us in this partnership."
"We know that for our economy to work, it must work for all," said Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland. "That's why improving the City of Memphis' performance with minority and women-owned businesses has been a priority of mine since becoming mayor. Citi Foundation and Living Cities' inclusion of Memphis in this cohort of City Accelerator shows that we're turning heads nationally with what we're doing. This program will only make our efforts stronger."
"I'm pleased Milwaukee has been selected by Citi Foundation and Living Cities to be part of City Accelerator as we continue to advance our goals of creating opportunities for local businesses and residents. Our downtown is the heart of the city, and it's going strong. I want our downtown to pump that energy and vitality into every one of our neighborhoods," said Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett. "We have long emphasized connecting our work on the city with jobs and businesses in the city. Working with the City Accelerator on our procurement strategies will help connect us to more city businesses, and support business growth throughout Milwaukee."
In addition to a $100,000 grant, the cities will receive a combination of coaching, technical assistance and implementation resources in the coming year. Cities may consider local policy reform, changes in standard procurement practice, staff training, leadership and accountability structures, communications, outreach and relationship building with local vendors, and capacity building for diverse local suppliers.
"Addressing disparities in the local economy has always been at the heart of our work," said Rodney Strong, founder and CEO of Griffin and Strong P.C., a law and public policy consulting firm providing coaching and expertise to participating cities. "We are excited to help bring our expertise from decades of national public policy research and implementation to these five leading cities as we ensure that opportunity and economic growth go hand-in-hand as part of a comprehensive strategy that benefits all residents."
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About the Citi Foundation
The Citi Foundation works to promote economic progress and improve the lives of people in low-income communities around the world. We invest in efforts that increase financial inclusion, catalyze job opportunities for youth, and reimagine approaches to building economically vibrant cities. The Citi Foundation's "More than Philanthropy" approach leverages the enormous expertise of Citi and its people to fulfill our mission and drive thought leadership and innovation. For more information, visit www.citifoundation.com.
About Living Cities
Living Cities harnesses the collective power of 18 of the world's largest foundations and financial institutions to develop and scale new approaches for creating opportunities for low-income people and improving the cities where they live. Its investments, research, networks, and convenings catalyze fresh thinking and combine support for innovative, local approaches with real-time sharing of learning to accelerate adoption in more places. Additional information can be found at www.livingcities.org.
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SOURCE Living Cities; Citi Foundation