This year’s HOPE Global Forum was held in Atlanta from January 15-17, and a twelve-member delegation from Macon-Bibb County and the community were given the chance to attend as a Co-Convening Partner, hear from the speakers, and meet organizers of the event and programs. The delegation heard from experts on financial empowerment for those in the lowest income brackets, make connections with organizations that could help Macon-Bibb County enhance its work in this area, and meet with leaders from the public and private sector working to address financial literacy.

The intent of Macon-Bibb is to collaborate with the Operation Hope and local partners to identify how this model of financial empowerment can best service our community. In addition, Macon-Bibb would like to learn from Operation HOPE’s extensive work on teaching financial literacy to at-risk youth, credit score education and counseling, and supporting entrepreneurship through business mentorship and startup capital.

“Macon-Bibb can use the Operation Hope Model to help mitigate barriers for small businesses, promote the growth of small businesses, and develop resources to aid small businesses in competing for government contracts,” says Office of Small Business Affairs Director Dr. James Bumpus.

Name Agency/Organization
Robert Reichert, Mayor Macon-Bibb County
Charles Coney
Wanzina Jackson
Dr. James Bumpus
Raabia Budhwani Strong Cities, Strong Communities (SC2)
Latoya Jones
Sarita Hill Macon-Bibb County Economic Opportunity Council
Miller Fluellen
Reverend Frank Broome Corporative Baptist Fellowship of Georgia
Reverend Ronald Toney Lizzie Chapel Baptist Church
Al Stewart Goodwill Industries of Middle Georgia
Frank Austin The Austin Center for Development

Macon-Bibb was introduced to the Operation HOPE model for community economic empowerment and financial inclusion through our participation in the White House’s Strong Cities, Strong Communities initiative. During the Forum, our local delegation heard from President Bill Clinton, Ambassador Andrew Young, Jim Clifton, Steve Case, Kat Cole, Dan Blanton, Jay Williams and Dr. Natalia Peart.The HOPE Global Forum is an international convening of leaders to outline a vision for a modern global economy that includes all people. Operation HOPE is a leading global financial dignity nonprofit that has provided financial empowerment education to more than 2.2 million individuals worldwide since 1992. The theme of this year’s Forum was Reimaging Our Global Economy. For more information about Operation Hope, click here.

About White House’s Strong Cities, Strong Communities Initiative in Macon-Bibb County
On Thursday, January 16, 2014, the White House and the Department of Housing and Urban Development announced the expansion of the Strong Cities, Strong Communities (SC2) Initiative to seven additional cities, including Macon-Bibb County.

As a participant, a federal inter-agency expert team is working with Macon-Bibb County, community organizations, local businesses, and philanthropic foundations to advance our vision for economic growth and development. The primary goal is to help Macon-Bibb more effectively invest existing resources, provide advice, and expertise in support of local priorities, better align federal programs and investments, and facilitate new partnerships and peer learning opportunities wherever possible.

President Obama established SC2 in 2011as an innovative and flexible program designed to strengthen local capacity, coordinate federal investments, and spark growth in economically distressed communities. Federal inter-agency expert teams have been deployed to work alongside city leadership, community organizations, local businesses and philanthropic foundations to support the cities’ visions for economic growth and development. The primary goal is to help cities more effectively invest existing resources, provide advice and expertise in support of local priorities, better align federal programs and investments, and facilitate new partnerships and peer learning opportunities wherever possible.

The SC2 Initiative was developed through engagement with mayors, Members of Congress, foundations, nonprofits and other community partners who are committed to addressing the challenges facing local governments as they work to create economic opportunity for all residents. For more information about the SC2 Teams involvement and goals for the new locations, click here.  For more information about accomplishments of the initiative in the original pilot locations and policy insights that have surfaced as a result, please review the first SC2 Annual Report.