Thursday, April 29, 2010

City's Department of Economic and Community Development Relocates to Main Street Station

The newly formed Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD) has begun operations in its new office space within Main Street Station, 1500 East Main Street, Suite 400. The city recently consolidated and reorganized the community development, economic development and real estate services departments with the intent of establishing a robust economic and community development agency.

"DECD's move to Shockoe Bottom firmly anchors that department into the things that are quintessential to the city of Richmond; African-American heritage and historic themes manufacturing, general business, trade, transportation, government, literature, and architecture. The area presents a microcosm of Richmond. Further, locating DECD reflects again my administration's commitment to the Shockoe Bottom area," said Mayor Dwight C. Jones.

The relocation of DECD to Shockoe Bottom also represents a cost savings and creative use of an underutilized city-owned space. The city previously paid rent for the office space that held the former Department of Economic Development, as the property is not city-owned.

"It is useful that the department is located outside of City Hall and that it becomes part of a neighborhood. My goal is to position DECD to continue to spur new business development with the establishment of a revolving loan fund for small and minority businesses and neighborhood development," said Mayor Jones. "This proposed fund will provide access to a flexible source of capital that can be used in combination with more conventional sources. The fund level will be between $1.8 million and $2 million. The fund will be a self-replenishing pool of money providing gap financing to be used for development and expansion of small businesses."

For more information on the Department of Economic and Community Development, visit www.richmondgov.com/EconomicCommunityDevelopment.

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Sister Cities International Awards Grant for African Sustainability Project to the Richmond Sister Cities Commission

Sister Cities International has awarded a two-year, $115,000 grant to Richmond Sister Cities Commission to perform projects that address sanitation, health, and water issues in urban areas of Africa. This project is funded by a $7.5 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

“This Sister Cities International program represents a major effort to address fundamental needs of citizens of urban areas in Africa," said Patrick Madden, President and CEO, Sister Cities International. "These sister cities represent some of the strongest partnerships between the U.S. and Africa and will become the measure of how cities can help each other and leave an enduring legacy in tangible ways."

The 17 grant recipients were selected by an independent panel of five experts in the areas of sister city relationships, aid administration, and international development. The other recipients include:

Baltimore, Maryland, and Luxor, Egypt
Chicago, Illinois, and Casablanca, Morocco
Delray Beach, Florida, and Moshi, Tanzania
Durham, North Carolina, and Arusha, Tanzania
Jacksonville, Florida, and Port Elizabeth, South Africa
Long Beach, California, and Mombasa, Kenya
Milwaukee County, Wisconsin, and Buffalo City, South Africa
Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and uMhlathuze, South Africa
Oakland, California, and Sekondi-Takoradi, Ghana
Riverside, California, and Obuasi, Ghana
Seattle, Washington, and Mombasa, Kenya
Sonoma, California, and Aswan, Egypt
St. Louis, Missouri, and St. Louis, Senegal
Toledo, Ohio, and Tanga, Tanzania
Urbana, Illinois, and Zomba, Malawi
Wilmington, Delaware, and Osogbo, Nigeria

The 17 cities will join the seven city pairs that were chosen in Phase I of the program. Training with and travel to the African partner city for the newly chosen group will take place throughout the remainder of 2010.

“We are proud to be part of the second phase of the Sister Cities International’s Africa Urban Poverty Alleviation Program. With this grant we will be able to begin working on initiatives to improve the drinking water supply and sanitation needs in our sister city of Segou. We will continue to develop the structural relationships in technical and cultural expertise in both Segou and Richmond that will facilitate addressing other areas of civic priority for both cities, such as education, poverty reduction, and economic development.”, says Allan Levenberg, Richmond Sister Cities Commissioner and AUPAP Project Manager for the Commission.

About Sister Cities International
Sister Cities International is the only U.S.-based organization dedicated to creating long-term city-to-city relationships between communities in the U.S. and abroad. Created by U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1956 at a White House summit, the organization is a leader in people-to-people exchanges with a network that boasts over 650 U.S. cities with more than 2,000 sister city relationships in 136 countries on six continents. Currently, the organization has 124 partnerships in 36 countries in Africa.

About AUPAP
Africa Urban Poverty Alleviation Program (AUPAP) is a three-year project to alleviate poverty in 25 African cities through water, sanitation, and health initiatives led by U.S. and African sister city programs. U.S. sister city programs will collaborate with their African counterparts to identify and address the most critical problems in these sectors, which form a barrier to sustained development in urban areas.

The sister cities network will capitalize on local members’ technical and professional expertise; links to city government, academia, nonprofits, and the private sector; and the long-term, people-to-people relationships they have developed over time to create projects that are both technically sound and based at the grass-roots level. Sister Cities International will also gather a group of international development experts to aid in the planning and execution of the projects.

Contact My Lan Tran at My.Lan.Tran@Richmondgov.com or (804) 646-6046 for the Richmond Sister Cities Commission. Contact Allan Levenberg at AllanLevenberg@comcast.net or (804) 241-0287 for more information about the Richmond- -Segou AUPAP program.

Visit www.sister-cities.org/africa for more information regarding Sister Cities International and the Africa Urban Poverty Alleviation Program. Facebook: Sister Cities International . Twitter: @SisterCityIntl .

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Monday, April 26, 2010

Mayor Comments on Shockoe Bottom Homicide

Mayor Dwight C. Jones today issued the following statement regarding the homicide that occurred this past weekend in the city's Shockoe Bottom area:

"The Richmond Police Department provides solid policing for Shockoe Bottom and I think most residents would agree that the area is generally safe overall. Any homicide in the city is a tragedy that we want to avoid. We are going to continue to work with the Merchant's Association to ensure that the area remains safe and that everyone understands the level of expectation with regard to patron behavior."

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