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CITY OF ST. PETERSBURG AND FEDERAL TASK FORCE ANNOUNCE SUCCESSFUL COMPLETION OF TASK FORCE MISSION
The City of St. Petersburg, FL, and the Federal Interagency Task Force today announced that the Task Force, which has already brought over $45 million in federal assistance to the City, will be transformed into a long-term partnership to continue the successful work of helping St. Petersburg recover from 1996 disturbances. HUD will assign a full-time civil servant to help the City and the community move forward on economic and community development.
The announcement comes after a month of discussions among federal agencies, community members and Mayor David Fischer on the best way to create an effective local transition plan.
Mayor Fischer and Housing and Urban Development Secretary Andrew Cuomo, who chairs the Task Force, spoke today and agreed that the work of the Task Force will be carried on through the efforts of the Mayor's Challenge 2001 Coordinating Committee, a new University of South Florida Urban Institute, ongoing federal initiatives in a number of areas, and the assignment of a HUD civil servant to assist the city in its continuing recovery. The civil servant will be an expert on HUD programs and on other federal agencies.
Mayor Fischer said the Federal Interagency Task Force - which ends today - accomplished its goals by establishing stronger ties between federal agencies and the City, by helping unite the community around common goals, and by providing initial federal assistance of over $45 million.
"The Federal Task Force has had a significant impact on laying the groundwork for improving life in St. Petersburg," Mayor Fischer said. "Throughout the past month, Secretary Cuomo and his staff have worked closely with me and the community to design a strong and appropriate local transition that will involve all segments of the City and the community, as well as the federal government. The plan that we are announcing today is exactly what St. Petersburg needs. With over a year of hard work and planning, the long-term commitment by Secretary Cuomo of a HUD employee to work with the City, and the groundwork in place for an effective transition to the Challenge 2001 Initiative, the Task Force has done far more for the City than ever promised and the time is right to transition to a new federal-local partnership."
Historically, federal emergency task forces are of short duration, generally lasting no more than 6 to 12 months. The St. Petersburg Task Force - which was originally designed to last a year - kept working for 14 months because of the strong federal commitment to help the City launch long-term economic development and community empowerment projects.
The eight federal agencies on the Task Force are: HUD, the Department of Labor, the Department of Health and Human Services, the Small Business Administration, the Department of Justice, the Department of Education, the Department of Defense, and the Environmental Protection Agency.
"While the entity known as the Federal Task Force is officially ending, the partnership between the federal government, the City and the community will transition into a more locally driven effort to continue the work of developing St. Petersburg," Secretary Cuomo said. "As part of that ongoing transition effort, the federal government's work will continue strongly and significantly through the assignment of a full-time HUD employee who will help the community institutionalize its redevelopment effort."
"In St. Petersburg, the Federal Task Force has acted as a catalyst for positive change and a partner in the City's rebuilding effort," Secretary Cuomo said. "Federal agencies will continue that work through the Mayor's Challenge 2001 Initiative and HUD will assign an employee to continue working closely with the City and the community to revitalize St. Petersburg. While we will have played, and will continue playing, an important role in improving conditions in the City, the most important work has been done and will be done by leaders and citizens of St. Petersburg."
"I want to thank the many people in St. Petersburg who have worked so hard to help the Federal Task Force succeed," Secretary Cuomo said. "In particular, I also want to thank the Mayor and his staff, the Governor and his State Interagency Task Force, all of the members of the Citizens Advisory Commission, and the many community organizations and business leaders who have worked hard to help revitalize St. Petersburg. On the federal level, the Task Force has received support from Senator Graham, Senator Mack, Congressman Young and other members of Florida's Congressional delegation."
"The Task Force has worked very closely with the Citizens Advisory Commission and members of the community over the last few months to design the right transition plan," said Garnelle Jenkins, President of the local chapter of the NAACP and a member of the Citizens Advisory Commission. "I believe the Task Force has accomplished a great deal in St. Petersburg and the time for it to transition is now. That's what's best for the African American community and the entire City of St. Petersburg. The federal government has been incredibly responsive and generous in its support and has involved all sectors of the community in the last year. However, we are not dependent on the federal government and we are ready for a new kind of partnership with Washington."
"The Task Force was the first step - not the final step - in revitalizing St. Petersburg." said Jim Simmons, CEO of the St. Petersburg Urban League and a member of the Citizens Advisory Commission. "It has established a strong partnership with the federal government that will benefit the city and is residents for years to come. I hope that the expertise and relationships that we have built up throughout the year will continue. "
"St. Petersburg has received far more federal attention and assistance than we could have ever expected," said Marvin Davies, another member of the Citizens Advisory Commission. "Secretary Cuomo, HUD and the other federal agencies not only lived up to their commitments - they exceeded them. Now its time for the City to step forward."
The Mayor and the Secretary praised the work of the Task Force and noted that it had spearheaded a number of innovative and important projects such as: the creation of a Business Development Collaborative to stimulate economic development and job creation; an education reform initiative to improve St. Petersburg schools; improvements in public safety; an after-school reading program (St. Pete Reads); an integrated workforce development program to assist low-income residents in gaining and maintaining employment with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays; a "Girl Power" coalition to give girls ages 9-14 skills to boost and maintain their self-confidence; and a partnership with the University of South Florida/St. Petersburg Urban Institute to promote a wide range of community development projects.
Content Archived: January 20, 2009