2016 in Review: The Working Cities Challenge
A retrospective look at the initiative’s progress
The Boston Fed’s Working Cities Challenge, launched in 2013, had a significant year in 2016 – cementing the initiative’s expansion beyond Massachusetts to Rhode Island and Connecticut. The Working Cities initiative builds on Boston Fed research that identified cross-sector collaboration and leadership as the key ingredients in resurgent smaller cities across the country. Through the Challenge, eligible cities submit applications for grants to enhance specific economic development initiatives that help to transform local economies and boost collaboration.
We took a retrospective look at 2016 progress and momentum for each of the four Working Cities Challenge initiatives currently underway:
Two rounds of the Working Cities Challenge ran simultaneously in Massachusetts in 2016.
Round one multiyear award winners—Chelsea, Fitchburg, Holyoke, and Lawrence—continue to make progress expanding their efforts and improving the lives of low-income residents in their communities. Those communities are now in their third year of implementation.
Launched in 2015, round two awarded multiyear implantation awards of $475,000 to Haverhill, Lowell, Pittsfield, Springfield, and Worcester in July. The five communities put forward initiatives focused on neighborhood revitalization, workforce development, and improving access to economic opportunity. The cities will work on these initiatives over a three-year period, accompanied by technical assistance and a learning community for best-practice sharing.
Launched in 2015, the Rhode Island Working Cities Challenge is now well underway. Seven communities—Central Falls, Cranston, East Providence, Newport, Pawtucket, Providence, and Westerly—each won $15,000 design grant awards in the summer and are now participating in workshops designed to help develop comprehensive, actionable implementation grant proposals. Multiyear implementation grants will be awarded in the first quarter of 2017.
The Working Cities Challenge expanded to Connecticut in 2016, with 16 eligible small and mid-sized communities—including Bridgeport, Bristol, Danbury, Hartford, East Hartford, Manchester, Meriden, Middletown, New Britain, New Haven, New London, Norwich, Torrington, Waterbury, West Haven, and Windham—submitting interest in participating in the Challenge. Design grant awards will be announced in late April 2017 followed by multiyear implementation awards in early 2018.