Last week, Montgomery Mayor Steven L. Reed used a series of strategic talks to bring the city’s issues to the attention of the Biden Administration. He was able to set up private meetings with key U.S. Cabinet Secretaries. These one-on-one meetings with important people like U.S. Secretary of the Treasury Janet Yellen, U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg, and U.S. Secretary of Education Dr. Miguel A. Cardona showed how proactive Montgomery is in addressing its most important needs and growth opportunities.
Reed used his trip to Washington, D.C., for the U.S. Conference of Mayors Winter Meeting to give a direct, on-the-ground assessment of Montgomery’s problems and how well current government policies are working while he was there. He talked about a lot of different things, from improving facilities and communities to education and training for the workforce. He stressed the city’s importance in national projects like moving the global supply chain.
“It is an honor for any mayor to have a private meeting with a Presidential Cabinet Secretary, let alone four in such a short amount of time,” Reed said. “I’m grateful that these leaders gave me a chance to tell them about Montgomery’s story, our hopes and needs to grow.” I gave them an honest, first-hand account of which government policies are working and which ones could be made better. Even more importantly, I told them about the problems our area is facing and told them where their agency’s help is most needed. Through these talks, I hope that we can work to make it easier for everyone in the community to get benefits.
Reed told Secretary Yellen that better water, sewage, and internet infrastructure was needed and thanked her for the government’s big investment in the Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI) Fund. He also suggested creating a Community Development Corporation to improve Montgomery’s central areas, and this idea was immediately backed up by government certification processes.
In terms of education, Mayor Reed and Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin told Secretary Cardona about the city’s attempts to expand programs for early childhood education and getting people ready for work. The mayor pushed for more government support for programs like the partnership between Trenholm State Community College and Montgomery Public Schools, which aims to give students better skills for jobs that are in high demand.
When I talked to Secretary Buttigieg about transportation, we mostly talked about how the Bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act and the RAISE grant have helped local towns. Mayor Reed pushed for federal help to improve Montgomery’s public transportation system, and he brought Buttigieg to see for himself the problems the city is having with transportation.
Back in Montgomery, Reed and Julie Su, who is acting as U.S. Secretary of Labor, talked about labor problems. They stressed how important it is to fight for fair wages, safe working conditions, and the end of illegal child labor. Reed asked the federal government to help small businesses grow and encourage people to start their own businesses in the city.
These talks are a big step toward revitalization and growth for Montgomery. They also show that Mayor Reed is committed to using government partnerships to meet the needs and goals of the city.