Washington Outlook

Vice President, Presidential Cabinet, Mayors Celebrate 6th Annual White House Community Empowerment Conference in Columbus, Ohio

By Eugene T. Lowe
July 17, 2000

Columbus, Ohio Mayor Michael B. Coleman hosted the 6th Annual White House Community Empowerment Conference June 27 - 29 in his city. On the second day of the meeting, preisential candidate Vice President Al Gore spoke to an audience of more than one thousand community leaders, grassroots organizers and elected officials, including Denver Mayor Wellington E. Webb, immediate past president of the Conference of Mayors, Atlanta Mayor Bill Campbell, Akron Mayor Donald L. Plusquellic, Jackson (MS) Mayor Harvey Johnson, Wilmington (DE) Mayor James H. Sills, Jr., East St. Louis Mayor Deborah Powell, South Bay, (FL) Mayor Clarence Anthony, Mt. Vernon, (NY) Mayor Ernest Davis, Macon Mayor Jack C. Ellis, and San Luis, (AZ) Mayor Alex Harper.

Mayor Webb preceded the Vice President at the podium described the Conference of Mayors 10-point agenda for the next administration. The Vice President in his remarks extolled the remarkable achievement of the nation's empowerment zones.

During his remarks, the Vice President called on Mayors Webb, Campbell and Powell to give a report on their cities' experiences with empowerment zones. Mayor Webb, whose city does not have an empowerment zone, said that his city had benefitted from having gone through the process of applying for empowerment zone designation.

Several administration officials also spoke or held workshops, including Housing and Urban Development Secretary Andrew Cuomo, Agriculture Secretary Dan Glickman, Education Secretary Bill Riley, Small Business Administration Administrator Aida Alavarez, FCC Chairman Bill Kennard, and HUD Assistant Secretary for Community Planning and Development Cardell Cooper.

During the Conference, Secretary Cuomo announced a number of new initiatives that will help Empowerment Zones and Enterprise Communities including:

  • A new $10 million Community Empowerment initiative that will generate up to $100 million to help revitalize some of the nation's most distressed urban neighborhoods.

  • A new $2 million partnership agreement with NorthPoint Communications to help "bridge the digital divide" by providing broadband internet access to over 800 Neighborhood Networks computer learning centers across the country.

  • HUD and PowerUP will open an additional 100 Neighborhood Networks Centers in Empowerment Zones and Enterprise Communities across the country, including Akron, Denver, Flint, Houston, Jacksonville, Los Angeles, Macon, Memphis, New Orleans, Pittsburgh, Princeville (N.C.), Savannah and a rural community in West Virginia. Neighborhood Networks Centers provide a wide range of social services and job training to low income housing residents.

  • Ending the dual designation of a community as both an Empowerment Zone and an Enterprise Community. This would provide the opportunity for nine additional Enterprise Communities.

  • HUD publication of 10,000 copies of What Works!, a compilation of Empowerment Zone-Enterprise Community success stories.

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