07/26/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Dear Mr. President

( This post is an open letter to President Barack Obama regarding the new White House Council on Automotive Communities and Workers.)

Dear Mr. President:

We fully support your decision to create The White House Council on Automotive Communities and Workers.

As a philanthropic collaboration of 21 of the world's largest foundations and financial institutions with a long and continuing record of investing in these hard-hit areas, Living Cities applauds the focused, inter-agency approach you are taking to revitalize these industrial cities.

Your Council on Automotive Communities and Workers is rightly taking a coordinated, integrative approach as the complexity of the issues demands a simultaneous strengthening of our communities from the bottom up, and the re-engineering -- from the top down -- of the public systems that have not yet created sustainable opportunities for growth in our 21st century economy.

We also urge you and the Council to build upon the numerous integrative efforts already taking root in these regions -- from the strategic repurposing of thousands of acres of vacant and under-used land for new economic development purposes and major strides in developing a green economy and workforce, to pioneering efforts to better use anchor institutions, such as universities and medical centers, to spur job creation and community development.

Because these regions have been suffering for so long, they actually have developed some of the most innovative job-creation strategies in the country that are primed for federal participation and support. We welcome this new opportunity to partner with your administration to not only restart whole communities, but help to prepare them to be the new growth engines of America's economy.


Ben Hecht
President & CEO
Living Cities

Living Cities Members
AARP Foundation, AXA Community Investment Program, Bank of America, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Citi Foundation, Deutsche Bank, Ford Foundation, J.P. Morgan Chase & Company, John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, Met Life Foundation, Prudential Financial, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Surdna Foundation, The Annie E. Casey Foundation, The Kresge Foundation, The McKnight Foundation, The Rockefeller Foundation, W.K. Kellogg Foundation

Affiliate Members
The Cleveland Foundation, The Skillman Foundation