Kragujevac, Serbia; Pitesti, Romania; and Springfield, Ohio, participated in a two-year partnership that focused on public service delivery and economic development. In particular, the partnership worked to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the drinking water system in Kragujevec. The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) funded this partnership through ICMA’s Resource Cities Program, an effort that brings together management practitioners from the United States with officials from developing and/or transitional cities to share resources and technical expertise that ultimately improves the lives of residents.
The Serbian Resource Cities Program (SRCP) was created to provide technical assistance and support to democratically minded municipal leaders throughout the Republic of Serbia. The SRCP partnered Serbian cities with officials from neighboring Eastern Europe and the United States. The three-way partnership was necessary to move forward despite international travel restrictions placed on the government of Milosevic.
The City of Springfield and Kragujevac identified the municipal water treatment plant’s inability to produce a steady supply of high quality water as its major challenge and area of assistance. Among other recommendations, Springfield suggested that the reservoir be skimmed daily in an effort to clear away organic materials. In addition, the city recommended cutting back the trees that line the reservoir, further limiting organic contamination.
The loss of water also affected the efficiency of the system. Springfield provided technical assistance and resources about water audits and leak detection. Much of the technical material was gathered from the American Water Works Association, a nonprofit scientific and educational society dedicated to the improvement of drinking water quality and supply.
Both cities asked the Springfield officials to evaluate current markets, available resources, and opportunities in an effort to collect information that would support a plan to enhance economic development opportunities. To that end, a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) analysis, which focused on improving the local economy, was conducted. Furthermore, Springfield provided information from its Small Business Development Center to assist Kragujevac in cultivating small businesses and offer programs to accompany the government loans given to workers whose jobs were eliminated. In Pitesti, the economic development efforts included discussions concerning infrastructure improvements, tax base identification and development, housing availability, and marketing activities.
The partnership later moved beyond the three municipalities to include the greater communities of the partnership cities. The universities of Wittenberg (Springfield), Kragujevac, and Pitesti entered into a formal partnership to provide interdisciplinary studies in local government and economic development. Wittenberg University planned to host visiting professors from Kragujevac and Pitesti and future plans included the creation of a scholarship for Serbian and Romanian students.