March 28, 2001

From Urban Blight to "Urban Bright": Mayors Point to 2000 Census Data as Evidence of Urban Renaissance
"National Summit for Investment in the New American City" Announced; President Bush to Meet with Mayors

On the heels of 2000 census data showing that cities are dramatically slowing and even reversing the trend of population loss, The United States Conference of Mayors convened a press conference to discuss strategies that have helped cities become the economic engines of America, as well as exciting communities in which to live and work.

Mayors Plusquellic, Peterson and Cianci Appear on NPR's Talk of the Nation
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"Back in the 70's Mayors were considered to be social workers," said Providence Mayor Vincent Cianci. "We're still involved with those same issues-food stamps, affordable housing and homelessness, among others. But today, we've added a new dimension to our role: we've become risk takers and entrepreneurs." Cianci cited such efforts as Providence's $142 million investment in a shopping complex centrally located in downtown Providence, which now attracts more than $20 million dollars each year to his city. Cianci has also created a unique tax credits to encourage artists and artisans to live within the city borders, and changed the physical landscape of his city by re-routing both train tracks and a river to create a waterfront that now is a central attraction of his city.

Recent news articles in major national newspapers have suggested that data recently released from the 2000 Census points to an "urban renaissance" in America's cities. Across the board, cities have dramatically slowed the decades-old trend of residents leaving cities for suburban areas; in a number of cases cities have actually reversed the trend. The economies of cities continue to grow, and America's Mayors having worked to bring down crime, improve infrastructure and help create affordable housing and job opportunities, in an effort to bring about this economic turnaround.

"I get a little anxious when I pick up the paper and all the governors around the country are getting all the credit," said Laredo Mayor Elizabeth Flores. "That's okay; but they're not on the front lines. It's Mayors-the Mayors are the ones making the difference." Flores noted that her city, which is the largest inland port in the United States-handling a full 35% of U.S. border trade with Mexico-has built, controls and maintains four international bridges between the United States and Mexico.

"Today's Mayors are business managers, trying to make sure they squeeze every nickel out of their budgets to provide essential city services," said Akron Mayor Donald Plusquellic. "In the last decade we've witnessed Mayors who've taken on every issue. Mayor Plusquellic stressed that today's Mayors are willing to undertake any issue that will improve the life of their cities. "We don't have the luxury of passing the buck," Plusqellic said.

The press conference was a precursor to the "National Summit for Investment in the New American City," scheduled for April 4 and 5 in Washington, DC. At the Summit 60 Mayors will join a group America's premier corporate leaders to focus on specific areas in which public and private investment strategies could remove barriers to growth in cities, or create new opportunities and resources. In addition to Mayors and CEO's, HUD Secretary Mel Martinez and EPA Administrator Christine Todd Whitman are scheduled to participate in the discussions on Thursday. And for the first time in his Presidency, President Bush will meet with the Mayors on Thursday, April 5 in the Rose Garden of the White House.

"Mayors today are as much entrepreneurs and CEOs as Fortune 500 executives are," said Conference Executive Director J. Thomas Cochran in announcing the Summit. "That's why our cities are more exciting places to live, with greater opportunities and quality of life, than ever before. But to keep the economy growing, we've got to talk about continued investment in our cities. By convening this Summit we're bringing a strong message to the new Administration and Congress: Mayors have innovative ideas about what policies will help our nation continue to grow, and our ideas have the support of corporate leaders across America."

Issues which will be covered at the Summit include addressing the skills shortage in America's workforce; brownfields redevelopment; the lack of affordable housing in cities; and rebuilding aging infrastructure in cities.

To view the press conference please check back soon.

CONTACT: David Gatton or Jubi Headley, (202) 293-7330

The United States Conference of Mayors is the official nonpartisan organization of cities with populations of 30,000 or more. There are about 1,100 such cities in the country today. Each city is represented in the Conference by its chief elected official, the mayor.

Video Clips
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Conference Executive Director
Tom Cochran

Providence Mayor
Vincent A. Cianci, Jr.

Laredo Mayor Betty Flores

Akron Mayor Donald Plusquellic


©2004 U.S. Conference of Mayors