Acting Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank traveled to Greensboro, North Carolina yesterday, where she discussed the Commerce Department’s initiatives  to strengthen the city and the region, spurring economic development and creating jobs. Over the past few years, local officials have shared how the federal government could best help cities that were hit hard in the recession and in the years leading up to it. They suggested:
- Combining federal, state and local resources to help cities that were poised to reinvent themselves;
- Requiring effort and money by both federal and local governments;
- Including an element of competition in order to make sure that the money went to the places that were best able to use it.
The result was the Strong Cities, Strong Communities (SC2) Challenge . The goal of the competition is to generate innovative ideas, strategies, and perspectives that cities can use to develop long-term economic and job growth plans. Acting Secretary Blank announced that Greensboro, North Carolina; Hartford, Connecticut; and Las Vegas, Nevada are the winners of the Obama administration’s SC2 Challenge. These grants will contribute to stable, long-term growth that will benefit families and businesses in each city and throughout each state. In the afternoon, she traveled to Durham, North Carolina to deliver remarks at an event hosted by the Raleigh and Durham Chambers of Commerce . Her remarks highlighted the Obama administration’s efforts to support American manufacturers, increase U.S. exports, and support U.S. businesses and workers in building things here and selling them everywhere.
Blank noted that the Research Triangle  has been a center for innovation and economic growth and job creation for decades, and while we’ve been through some tough economic times, it’s clear that this area is once again serving as a vibrant location for new ideas and new businesses.
Blank reminded the crowd that while more work remains, compared to where America’s economy was only a few years ago, it has truly come a long way. Unemployment nationally–and in states like North Carolina–has dropped about two percent and 4.6 million private sector jobs have been created over the past 30 months, including over 100,000 in North Carolina.