Essays on People, Place & Purpose

Investing in What Works for America's Communities

John Robert Smith, Reconnecting America

Shoring up our existing transit systems with supportive infrastructure and dependable operating budgets can positively affect the quality of life for the poor and the transit-dependent.

John Robert Smith is the president and CEO of Reconnecting America. Reconnecting America is a national nonprofit organization that helps transform promising ideas into thriving communities, where transportation choices make it easy to get from place to place, where businesses flourish and where people from all walks of life can afford to live, work and visit. Reconnecting America not only conducts research and public policy, but also builds on-the-ground partnerships and convenes the players necessary to accelerate decision-making. He is the former Mayor of Meridian, Mississippi, and a long-time leader on behalf of passenger rail. He is co-chairman of Transportation for America, a former Chairman of Amtrak’s board, and a former member of the transportation committees of the National League of Cities and the U.S. Conference of Mayors, as well as former co-chairman of the National Forum on the Future of Passenger Rail. He is a veteran of the station-centered community development movement, and led the drive to renovate the City of Meridian’s Union Station, a $7 million historic restoration project that created a new multimodal transportation center, dramatically increased use of the station, raised property values and city tax receipts, and lowered crime in the station’s neighborhood. He served on Reconnecting America’s board for five years, and was a founding partner and board member of Reconnecting America’s predecessor organization, the Great American Station Foundation.

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Investing in What Works for America’s Communities is a joint project of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco and the Low Income Investment Fund.

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The ideas in Investing in What Works for America’s Communities are just a start. We want to hear about what’s working in your community. Tell us about innovative ideas for addressing poverty and share examples of people and places that inspire you. We want to share these ideas and spark conversation about how to create opportunity and prosperity for all Americans. Tell Us What Works

Funding for this project was generously provided to the Low Income Investment Fund by the Citi Foundation.