Q&A: Clarence Anthony – Executive Director for the National League of Cities
March 2014 Newsletter
Clarence Anthony served as the Mayor of South Bay, Florida for 24 years. He is known as a creative and thoughtful leader in his community. He is considered an expert in citizen engagement and techniques that build a "sense of community" within cities. Mr. Anthony has been on the forefront of politics in the United States and internationally for the past 20 years, culminating with productive presidencies of the Florida League of Cities and the National League of Cities (NLC), respectively.
As NLC President, Mr. Anthony serves as the chief spokesperson of the oldest and largest organization of municipal officials in the United States, representing more than 1,600 cities and towns, as well as 49 state municipal leagues that are members of NLC. He also served as First Vice President of International Union of Local Authorities and as Founding Treasurer of United Cites and Local Governments (UCLG), the international voice for local governments, for four years. He also served as the Interim Manager for UCLG. He has continued his involvement with NLC by serving on the Building Committee.
Prior to his appointment as Executive Director of NLC, Mr. Anthony served as President of Anthony Government Solutions, a consulting firm focused on providing solutions to government and private sector organizations on issues affecting the community, strategic visioning, policy development, business development and management restructuring.
He holds a Masters Degree in Public Administration with specialization in City Growth Management policy from Florida Atlantic University.
Question: Sustainability is an important concern in economic development. How can one take what you’ve learned through the Sustainable Cities Institute and apply it to communities undertaking economic development activities?
There is a recognition that better air and water quality directly equates with how residents value a city. Sustainable practices and planning can help to create and maintain that value. City leaders take a holistic approach to make an environmental agenda work with a jobs agenda. Jobs and sustainability are not mutually exclusive. For example, we see cities perform transit orientated development. They are ensuring the mobility of the residents and creating access points for them to engage in the rest of the city. With this we are seeing mixed use development around transit that are spurring on greater economic development.
Q: NLC recently called for more federal partnerships to drive innovation and opportunity. What do you see as the federal government’s role in innovation, and how can its involvement drive meaningful advancement across industries?
The federal government plays a leadership role in infrastructure and transportation investments that spur on development around transit and increases efficiency for businesses and people. The Presidential announcement of funding for resilience is exciting as it would mean less rebuilding after extreme weather events.
The federal government spurs on development in programs like the Community Development Block Grants, which pairs federal seed money with local dollars to transform communities. TIGER grants are great as they seek out innovative projects and invests in them. Then other communities can learn from them in the form of best practice sharing and lessons learned.
Research and development dollars that are sent to universities help spur on development around those institutions. Students, faculty, and associated businesses can help create vibrant neighborhoods and the research developments can lead to new private sector businesses and new markets that support cities across the country.
Q: Comprehensive immigration reform is another policy focus for NLC. How do you view comprehensive immigration reform benefitting the American economy and supporting economic development?
Immigrants contribute greatly to our nation and we should encourage their involvement in the national economy. They start businesses, buy homes, and contribute greatly to the neighborhoods they reside in. When they start businesses they provide jobs, stimulate growth in their markets and help to revitalize neighborhoods. We need to find ways to bring them out of the shadows and into the social and economic fabric of our cities. They also bring new ideas and break down cultural misunderstandings, which spark creativity to make new discoveries and build new products.
Q: In NLC’s experience working with municipalities on issues pertaining to economic development, what would you say are the keys to successful economic development?
The most critical way that cities can drive economic development is by supporting small businesses, leveraging the capacity of entrepreneurs, and truly being a partner – not an obstacle – for growth. Whether it’s streamlining regulations, helping business owners establish a better web presence, or helping new businesses locate in formerly vacant properties, there are lots of ways that cities can utilize their resources to establish a stronger local economy.