Strong Cities, Strong Communities initiative thrives in Fresno
The Pacific Rim Region is helping generate positive economic benefits to the city of Fresno through its participation in the White House Strong Cities, Strong Communities (SC2) initiative. SC2 is an interagency pilot that aims to strengthen neighborhoods, towns, cities and regions around the country by enhancing local government’s capacity to develop and execute their economic vision and strategies. It bolsters local governments by providing necessary technical assistance and access to federal agency expertise, and creates new public and private sector partnerships.
GSA is one of 12 federal agencies that comprise the SC2-Fresno team and our regional efforts are proving instrumental in furthering the SC2 goals of Fresno’s Downtown Revitalization and Business Development.
"For me, the success of SC2 underscores the value of interagency collaboration and teamwork across all levels of government," said Mark Reiss, GSA’s Fresno Community Solutions team member.
In support of the city’s downtown revitalization objectives, GSA negotiated a lease on behalf of the Social Security Administration (SSA) to relocate their West Fresno office from 1052 C Street, on the edge of Fresno's central business district, to the downtown Fulton Mall. This new 15-year lease will create an influx of 4,300 patrons per month to the heart of the city's historic district, and supports the city’s long-term vision for transforming downtown and its neighborhoods into a vibrant and sustainable place to live and work. According to SSA District manager Ann Keag, there are 102,000 people in the area served by the West Fresno Social Security office, which makes this office and its location an important part of the local economy.
The SSA lease brought new life to a near vacant building and its modernization plan provided extensive upgrades to the interior and exterior of the structure, significantly restoring its character and incorporating energy efficiencies. With the West Fresno office officially opening on December 17, 2012, the renovated building is now helping reshape and revitalize the local business area by providing a welcoming, walkable landscape for the city landmark and pedestrian thoroughfare.
This lease is just one of the many steps GSA is taking to assist the city of Fresno. We continue to work towards expanding our federal footprint in the downtown Fresno area and are planning a training class for the end of January to educate commercial real estate managers on federal leases and the application process. We partnered with the Small Business Administration and Minority Business Development Agency to host a HUBZone contracting workshop in Fresno last year to encourage local small and medium sized businesses to take advantage of this federal contracting preference, which is not being fully utilized in Fresno. Attendees also received guidance on how to identify federal contract opportunities and submit successful proposals to increase their revenues. And, in March of this year, we’ll team up with Fresno’s Black Chamber of Commerce to host a business matchmaking event at the Central Valley Business Diversity Expo. Fresno small businesses will have an opportunity to meet one-on-one with participating federal agencies to learn about agency contracting opportunities.
The city of Fresno is also leveraging GSA’s local procurement programs to stretch the city’s general fund while federal agencies in Fresno, such as the Internal Revenue Service, are consolidating their space and are turning over excess property and computers to local schools and the community through GSA’s Computers for Learning Program and GSA AuctionsSM.
These recent efforts to support Fresno’s downtown revitalization and business development goals are a continuation of our work with the city over the years. In 2005, GSA constructed a new courthouse in Fresno’s civic center district of downtown to accommodate the court’s expanding requirements. The title for the old courthouse, the B. F. Sisk Courthouse, was conveyed to the state for use by the Superior Court for $1 with the stipulation that the building be used for the administration of justice.