In a series of strategic engagements, Montgomery Mayor Steven L. Reed took the city’s agenda to the heart of the Biden Administration last week, securing private meetings with key U.S. Cabinet Secretaries. This rare series of one-on-one discussions with leaders 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 underscored Montgomery’s proactive stance in addressing its critical needs and opportunities for growth.
During his visit to Washington, D.C., for the U.S. Conference of Mayors Winter Meeting, Reed leveraged these high-level talks to present a direct, on-the-ground assessment of Montgomery’s challenges and the effectiveness of current federal policies. His discussions ranged from infrastructure investments and community development to education and workforce training, emphasizing the city’s role in national initiatives like the repositioning of the global supply chain.
“It is a rare honor for a mayor to get a private audience with a Presidential Cabinet Secretary, let alone four in such short order,” said Reed. “I am thankful these leaders gave me an opportunity to share with them Montgomery’s story, our wants, and our needs to thrive. I provided them with a direct, on-the-ground assessment of what federal policies are working and which ones can be improved. More importantly, I brought them up to speed on the challenges our area is experiencing and advised them on where their agency’s input is most needed. It my hope that as a result of these discussions we work to improve access to benefits for all members of the community.”
Reed’s encounter with Secretary Yellen highlighted the need for enhanced water, sewage, and broadband infrastructure, thanking her for the administration’s substantial investment in the Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI) Fund. He also proposed the establishment of a Community Development Corporation to rejuvenate Montgomery’s core areas, receiving immediate support for federal certification processes.
In education, Mayor Reed, alongside Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin, briefed Secretary Cardona on local efforts to broaden early childhood education and workforce readiness programs. The mayor advocated for increased federal backing for initiatives like Trenholm State Community College’s collaboration with Montgomery Public Schools, aiming to better equip students with skills for high-demand jobs.
Transportation discussions with Secretary Buttigieg revolved around the positive impacts of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act and the RAISE grant on local communities. Mayor Reed pushed for federal assistance to enhance Montgomery’s public transportation system and invited Buttigieg to witness the city’s transit challenges firsthand.
Back in Montgomery, Reed and Acting U.S. Secretary of Labor Julie Su discussed labor issues, emphasizing the importance of fair wages, safe working conditions, and the fight against illegal child labor practices. Reed called for federal support to foster small business growth and entrepreneurship within the city.
These discussions mark a significant step in Montgomery’s journey towards revitalization and growth, showcasing Mayor Reed’s commitment to leveraging federal partnerships to address the city’s needs and aspirations.