Last Friday, Mayor Michael O’Connor joined with other mayors across America for a briefing with White House officials, to urge the Biden/Harris Administration to move forward with strong efforts to invest federal resources for sustainable, equitable community revitalization. Mayor O’Connor took a lead role in the briefing, urging the Biden Administration to seek increased funding for U.S. Economic Development Administration grants to localities for projects like the expansion of FITCI (Frederick Innovative Technology Center Inc).
“Frederick’s constituents should be pleased that the White House is so engaged with local officials to promote federal investments in community revitalization, and I was encouraged by the positive response from key White House officials about our ideas for progress," shared Mayor O'Connor.
Mayor O’Connor was invited to the April 23rd meeting because he is one of the founding leaders of a national coalition, called the Transition Advocacy Project (“TAP”), which has brought together diverse mayors, town leaders, and county officials from across America to call for bold and robust federal support for economic recovery, local climate action, community equity and resilience, and sustainable infrastructure investment. On April 23, he gathered with other mayors from cities including Bozeman, MT, Gretna, LA, Charleston, WV, and Madison, WI, among others. These mayors briefed officials in the White House Office of Intergovernmental Relations and the White House Office of Public Engagement.
Mayor O’Connor led the portion of the briefing calling for President Biden to request an increase in annual federal appropriations for the U.S. Department of Commerce, Economic Development Administration (“EDA”) from $292 million per year to an adequate level of $500 million in the Fiscal Year 2023 budget. Those EDA resources could fund projects such as the establishment of the FITCI business incubator and accelerator in a new, state-of-the-art building. Mayor O’Connor also joined with Mayor Deirdre Waterman of Pontiac, MI to call for an increase in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Brownfield & Land Revitalization program from $82 million per year, to an adequate level of $250 million in the FY2023 budget. The City of Frederick has applied for a U.S. EPA brownfield grant to support revitalization on blighted sites along Carroll Creek in East Frederick and is also moving forward on a grant application to EDA for FITCI’s new headquarters.
The White House officials responded positively to these calls for robust federal investment. TAP asked for follow-up with EDA officials to seek to put these ideas into action, which will be forthcoming.