White House picks Racine — City is first to launch new initiative

2013-02-22T06:35:00Z 2013-12-18T14:10:19Z White House picks Racine — City is first to launch new initiativeCARA SPOTO cara.spoto@journaltimes.com Journal Times

RACINE — If you have ever tried to get information or assistance from a federal agency you’ll know how easy is it to get lost or hit a roadblock. You might approach the Economic Development Administration looking for help with a business loan only to find out that it’s the Small Business Administration you need to be talking to. 

It’s a problem White House Deputy Director of Intergovernmental Affairs Jay Williams and fellow White House officials are looking to solve.

On Thursday Williams and representatives from more than a half dozen federal agencies including the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the SBA and the Environmental Protection Agency came to Racine’s City Hall. They were there to meet with Mayor John Dickert, city department heads, area developers, state legislators, and local clergy about a new program aimed at improving communication between communities and the federal agencies charged with serving them.

Dickert, who knows Williams, had lobbied for Racine to be a first meeting site.

The group spent more than an hour getting to know each other, talking about housing and economic development projects, and learning how the agencies might work to combine their services to help them get the projects off the ground.

“We had this (meeting) to make sure that the mayor and the local stakeholders had an opportunity to meet face to face with all the federal agencies that are assigned to this region,” said Williams, who manages the Obama Administration’s relationships with local elected officials. “Every one of the federal agencies has someone assigned to this region, but very rarely have they all been in the same room at the same time meeting with local officials.”

He said the point of bringing everyone together was partly to ensure that local leaders have a contact in an agency that they can to go to for assistance, but also to help foster creative use of federal funds.

“Often when you are looking at development or redevelopment there are so many pieces to the puzzle,” Dickert said of the effort. “What happens is if you have a developer looking at a site they run into a gap . . . Now with what the White House is doing . . . it is not just the city and the developer, it is all of us working together. It makes the project much more amenable and much more affordable.”

The initiative, dubbed “Connecting Your Community,” is also aimed at “breaking down the silos” that can make it difficult for federal agencies to work together to help local entities and developers, Williams said.

“When we talk about breaking down silos we are really talking about making sure that federal agencies are all focused on their mission but are also looking at the big picture, and how what they do . . . can be leveraged to work together for the communities.”

State Rep. Cory Mason, D-Racine, who was one of several local residents who took part in the meeting, said he was encouraged by the initiative.

“I got to lots of meetings, but this is one where I believe I learned a lot and made some great connections,” he said.

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(13) Comments

  1. Kjaerringa
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    Kjaerringa - February 25, 2013 11:19 am
    Actually, my experience during the last 18 years has been the opposite..... There are a lot of issues in Kenosha that we do not have here. Our downtown is far more vibrant, and I would not hesitate visiting it at night. Racine certainly has some huge issues to deal with, but good development in downtown and uptown can help to alleviate some of those. Remember, not all the 'hot spots' are in the city of Racine. The adjacent towns and villages have their share of issues, too...it is not all a 'city' crime problem. But I do agree with you about the grass on their lakefront. Simmons Island is lovely. On the flip side, we have North Beach.......
  2. RightWayWisconsin
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    RightWayWisconsin - February 24, 2013 11:06 pm
    Wow the are actually streamlining EPIC FAIL to Racine. I think we all know this wont end well , but it will be wasteful if that makes u feel better.
  3. drizzit
    Report Abuse
    drizzit - February 23, 2013 4:45 pm
    Anything Liberals can do to make it easier to hold you down!
  4. Racine Writer
    Report Abuse
    Racine Writer - February 22, 2013 6:24 pm
    Peak Oil? Did a black helicopter tell you that?
  5. Blindman
    Report Abuse
    Blindman - February 22, 2013 5:34 pm
    So did the national average...Maybe take a look at your buddy o,bla,bla,blama.
  6. Green Racinereal
    Report Abuse
    Green Racinereal - February 22, 2013 5:14 pm
    Kenosha is a far better place, from a Lakefront with GRASS vs concrete to an honest Goverment vs lining pockets of pals with cash.
    Less crime less unemployment.
  7. I Come In Peace
    Report Abuse
    I Come In Peace - February 22, 2013 2:56 pm
    In other news, Wisconsin job growth slowed from September of 2011 to September of 2012. What excuse will Walker apologists come up with now?
  8. ggodmuls
    Report Abuse
    ggodmuls - February 22, 2013 2:05 pm
    What is it now - 4 years into post peak oil?

    UH, the residents who have to live in the real world can't afford to pay the taxes for the costs of taxpayer funded "sparks" that is supposed to get the growth engine started again.

    It's the high level of debt and persistently high energy prices.

    RAH -RAH! Ignore reality - it will deal with you. Downtown needs to quit looting the rest of the community - they are killing it.

  9. Kjaerringa
    Report Abuse
    Kjaerringa - February 22, 2013 11:23 am
    Redevelopment means jobs. A streamlined process should attract more developers, with innovative and quality ideas. A well thought out development encourages people to move here, shop here, visit here. Just look at Kenosha's Civil War Museum. I thought it was a bad idea, too specialized for our area during an economic downturn, but it Has turned out to be a huge tourism draw for them. When developments are successful, people also want to live here. And, of course, an increase in people moving here increases housing demand, which lifts prices. I think this has the potential to be terrific for Racine! Hurray!
  10. ggodmuls
    Report Abuse
    ggodmuls - February 22, 2013 10:56 am
    The City of Racine needs to get out of the redevelopment and housing business. They are bankrupting residents with their tax and spend - for no return, projects.

    One disaster after another.
  11. jnj3225
    Report Abuse
    jnj3225 - February 22, 2013 10:07 am
    Hope your having fun with "OUR" money!!!! You are all talking like it is a free gift from the federal govt!The federal govt doesnt earn Money to give away! Idiots. Time for Dick ert and Mason to go!
  12. Green Racinereal
    Report Abuse
    Green Racinereal - February 22, 2013 8:01 am
    Filled with Dickert Pals looking for more free money. Reading that the Tick, Cory Mason was in the house comes as no shock. Did someone ask him how he can represent a poor Black area of Racine yet live in a snow white area overlooking Lake Michigan?

    Did Sky Falls do the Press Conference? They are now the Video experts right?
  13. Joeboy5471
    Report Abuse
    Joeboy5471 - February 22, 2013 7:16 am
    Good for the City of Racine. Keep the City government officials out of the loop and the relationship should work fine.
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