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March 12, 1999

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Empowerment Zones create a successful partnership between all levels of government, private businesses, community groups and local residents to bring new life to inner cities and rural communities suffering from hard economic times. These Zones do exactly what their name says they empower people willing to work hard to improve their communities, improve their lives, and build better futures for their children. They help to connect the communities that need it most to new opportunity.

Vice President Al Gore
March 12, 1999

Today, Vice President Al Gore will be in Florida, where he is joined by Miami-Dade Mayor Alex Penelas and City of Miami Mayor Joe Carollo in celebrating the designation of Miami-Dade/Miami as an Empowerment Zone. Today's event reinforces the Vice President's commitment to the Administration's agenda of expanding economic opportunity in distressed rural areas and inner cities.

Promoting Economic Opportunity In Rural Areas And Inner Cities. As chair of the President's Community Empowerment Agenda, the Vice President oversees the Administration's Community Empowerment Agenda, which includes a series of initiatives to provide greater opportunity in, and expand the competitiveness of, our distressed urban and rural areas. Highlights of the Clinton-Gore Administration's agenda include:

  • Empowerment Zones: Vice President Gore recently named 20 economically distressed communities as new Empowerment Zones, making them eligible to share in $3.8 billion in proposed federal grants and tax-exempt bonding authority to finance sweeping revitalization and job creation programs over the next 10 years. This second round of Empowerment Zones builds on the experience of the program's first round, which included eleven Zones (as well as 94 Enterprise Communities), awarded in December 1994. The first round has resulted in more than $8 billion in private-sector investment to the designated communities and unprecedented public-private partnerships;
  • Abandoned Buildings Initiative: This new Presidential initiative will turn "brown yards into backyards" by addressing some of the primary sources of blight in our urban neighborhoods: abandoned apartment houses, single family homes, warehouses, and even office buildings. Through this initiative, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) will provide $50 million in competitive grants to local governments to support the demolition of blighted abandoned buildings as part of a comprehensive plan to redevelop properties for commercial or residential use;
  • The New Markets Initiative: The budget provides tax credit and loan guarantee incentives to stimulate $15 billion of new private capital investments in targeted areas; build a network of private investment institutions to funnel credit, equity and technical assistance into businesses in America's new markets; and provide the expertise to targeted small businesses that will allow them to use investment to grow;
  • The New Markets Tax Credit: To help spur $6 billion in new equity capital, this tax credit is worth up to 25 percent for investments in a wide range of vehicles serving these communities, including community development banks, venture funds and corporations, and the new investment company programs created by this initiative. A wide-range of businesses could be financed by these investment funds, including small technology firms, inner-city shopping centers, manufacturers with hundreds of employees, and retail stores;
  • America's Private Investment Companies (APICs): Just as America's support for the Overseas Private Investment Corporation helps promote growth in emerging markets abroad, APIC will encourage private investment in this country's untapped markets. For each $100 million of private equity, HUD and SBA will guarantee loans up to $200 million, creating a $300 million investment fund to target larger businesses that are expanding or relocating in inner city and rural areas.

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