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South Suburbs using unique collaborative model to compete for stimulus funds

The South Suburban Mayors and Managers Association (SSMMA) works on behalf of 42 municipalities to spur economic investment in Chicago's south suburbs. Recently, SSMMA has been structuring collaborations among multiple communities focused on similar development opporutnities, such as a partnership with seven communities located along the Calumet River to utilize the river to attract new, green investment.

With the announcement early this year of new U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development's Neighborhood Stabilization Program (NSP) stimulus funds, which are focused on foreclosure acquisition, rehabilitation, and redevelopment, SSMMA worked with several regional partners to submit one application on behalf of the hardest hit south suburban communities and focus those resources along economic and transit corridors in order to have the most significant impact. To date, the collaborative has been awarded $9 million from Cook County's NSP allocation.

In October, the Department of Energy announced a nationally competitive application for $454 million in Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant funds. DOE is looking for programs at the regional and local level.  The competitive grants will be available for two topics areas: the Retro Ramp-up Program for a handful of grants ranging from $5 million to $75 million, and the General Innovation Fund, which is funding projects from $1 million to $5 million. SSMMA qualifies for the General Innovation Fund and is currently pulling together an application to supplement the focus of NSP to support energy efficient redevelopment of industrial, residential, and commerical properties within close proximity to fixed-rail transit. This will help reduce energy consumption and improve location efficiency. CMAP is applying on behalf of the region for the Retro Ramp-up Program, a complementary effort to that of SSMMA.

The Metropolitan Planning Council, along with several other regional partners, is supporting these interjurisdictional efforts. We believe that the greatest opportunity lies in addressing our region's challenges by approaching them at the true scale of the issue, which often does not adhere to municipal boundaries. 

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