Rocky Mount, which continues to struggle with high unemployment, will be getting some federal help.

The city is one of seven across the country being added to the Obama administration’s Strong Cities, Strong Communities initiative.

The program, launched in 2012, is designed to help struggling communities better utilize existing federal resources. It sends teams of federal employees to work with mayors, local businesses and philanthropic foundations to help them cut through red tape and build partnerships to improve their economy.

In its first year, the initiative worked with seven cities accomplishing such things as bringing the first new grocery story to Chester, Pa., in more than a decade; and in Cleveland, helping nine companies expand and add workers by providing expertise and low-interest loans.

Like the rest of the state, Edgecombe and Nash counties have seen some improvement in their jobs data but the rates are still high. In November, Edgecombe’s rate was 12.1 percent and Nash’s 9.5 percent, according to data seasonally adjusted by ECU’s Bureau of Business Research. The state unemployment rate was 7.4 percent for the same period.

Staff writer Mary Cornatzer

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