Like many American cities, Little Rock’s Main Street experienced sharp economic decline over the last several decades. Downtown Little Rock’s largest land use was parking; the Main Street was sustained by a few state office tenants and characterized by empty buildings. In 2010, the EPA, DOT, and Department of Housing and Urban Development came together and teamed up with Little Rock through the Partnership for Sustainable Communities to align transportation and affordable housing investments alongside environmental protection efforts while helping America’s cities realize their visions for a more prosperous future. Federal, state and city leaders worked with Little Rock’s residents and businesses to turn downtown Little Rock’s vacant lots into pocket parks, line streets with mini gardens, and expand an existing trolley line. The National Endowment for the Arts helped the City continue making improvements to Main Street through the Our Town Grant Program. Today, the City has developed a brand new, award-winning ‘Creative Corridor’ along Little Rock’s Main Street, and has leveraged several million dollars in new funding for cleanup and green infrastructure improvements.
In the words of local leaders:
Local leaders across the country have felt the impact of a better federal partner. Here’s what they had to say:
“I am very thankful that the Choctaw Nation and partners have been awarded the Promise Zone designation….this designation will assist with ongoing efforts to emphasize small business development and bring economic opportunity to…high-need communities. I am confident that access to the technical assistance and resources offered by the Promise Zones designation will result in better lifestyles for people living and working within the Choctaw Nation” — Choctaw Chief Gregory E. Pyle
“Having federal partners working with you, rooting for you, helping remove obstacles instead of being the obstacles themselves, completely reinvigorates you as a community and helps you really know that you can in fact move forward.” — Fresno, CA Mayor Ashley Swearengin
“The Oglala Sioux Tribe appreciates the preservation and repatriation of these significant cultural language records, and the federal government’s commitment to returning them to our people. It is important for our children to be immersed in our language, and will continue toward the preservation of our culture for the next seven generations. For that I am grateful and appreciative.” — Pine Ridge Indian Reservation Oglala Sioux Tribe President John Steele.
“In addition to putting out fires, we’ve had the luxury of long-term planning with the Feds coming in to work side by side with us each day [through Strong Cities, Strong Communities]. So often as city leaders, we think about how to get money from the federal government. But what I’ve come to understand is that the technical assistance and ability to work across agency lines has been priceless to the City of Gary.” — Gary, IN Mayor Freeman-Wilson
“One of my priorities as Mayor of Shelby County, Tennessee has been building regional cooperation. … The Partnership for Sustainable Communities not only provided necessary funding to support regional planning, but also set the example for what regions and its residents could accomplish through collaborative problem solving and cooperative action. Whether it is to handle transportation, economic development, or prepare for natural disasters, I know from my time as County Mayor that by pooling our resources and ideas strategically we can craft better solutions to our greatest issues, and prepare our regions for sustained growth, prosperity, and quality of life.” — Mark H. Luttrell, Jr., Mayor of Shelby County, Tennessee
Check out today’s fact sheet to find out more about ways federal and local leaders are improving collaboration today and in the days to come through the Community Solutions Council.