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11/7/2017 4:08:00 PM
Accelerator for America launches in South Bend, calling Washington 'broken'

Jeff Parrott, South Bend Tribune Staff Writer

SOUTH BEND —Calling for new leadership to jumpstart “civic entrepreneurship” and job creation because Washington is “broken,” a national group of mayors, nonprofit and labor leaders, and business executives will convene its first meeting here Wednesday in a former Studebaker Corp. building.

Accelerator for America, a group seeking nonprofit status and led by Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, will provide grants in the form of capital, mentorship and networking to accelerate innovative ideas — by local governments, nonprofits and businesses — that have the most potential to be replicated elsewhere.

Why launch such a group in “flyover country,” the derisive term that some use for the Midwest? Garcetti said South Bend is a great example of a city doing innovative things. He also hatched the idea with the help of Mayor Pete Buttigieg during meetings the two had in May at a U.S. Conference of Mayors event in Washington. Both Democratic mayors have been vocal critics of Republican President Donald Trump.

Garcetti said Buttigieg played a larger role than anyone else in helping him craft the idea.

“We’re kind of birds of a feather who found each other,” Garcetti told The Tribune in a phone interview Monday. “We had the same generational frustration about the pace of things. We want to provide the networking and support to accelerate how you get there in six to 12 months instead of two to five years.”

While acknowledging intense partisanship had paralyzed Washington before Trump’s election, Garcetti noted that Trump campaigned on a pledge to invest $1 trillion for public works projects but that nothing has materialized.

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