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Pacific Rim rallies at Strong Cities, Strong Communities capstone in Fresno

By Drew Jack

Officials at the Strong Cities, Strong Communities capstone event in Fresno
Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin addresses the capstone attendees.

When regional federal agency leadership gathered on November 20, 2013 to culminate the two-year Strong Cities, Strong Communities (SC2) initiative in Fresno, GSA occupied a proud seat at its transformative table.

Customer Service Director Mark Reiss has spearheaded GSA’s involvement in the White House initiative since 2011.

Reiss collaborated closely with Megan Stefani and her Real Estate Acquisition staff to negotiate two federal leases that relocated central business district outliers to the downtown Fulton Mall area. When the Social Security Administration’s West Fresno office opened not quite a year ago, its 15-year lease created an influx of 4,300 patrons a month to the heart of the city’s historic district.

In March of this year, Reiss and Lori Falkenstrom from GSA's regional Small Business Utilization Center teamed up with Fresno’s Black Chamber of Commerce to host a business matchmaking event at the Central Valley Business Diversity Expo. Fresno small businesses met one-on-one with participating federal agencies to learn about agency contracting opportunities.

At the capstone gathering, Mayor Ashley Swearengin reflected on the impacts of SC2 over the last two years and shared lessons learned. She highlighted the importance of collaboration and the synergistic effects of everyone working together to move in the same direction. “Much can be done with few resources,” said Swearengin, “if you are ‘hungry’ for different outcomes.”

Regional federal agency leaders attending included Les Yamagata, U.S. General Services Administration, Federal Acquisition Service, Acting Regional Commissioner; Glenda Humiston, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Rural Development, California State Director; and Vince Mammano, U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Highway Administration, California Division Administrator.

The capstone event was the culmination of the two-year White House initiative, a federal interagency collaboration of twelve federal agencies that shared the goal of building a foundation for Fresno’s economic transformation.

Mark Reiss contributed to this report.

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