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Further Information:For Release
White House: (202) 456-7035Friday
HUD: 202/708-0685October 16, 1998


Among the broad victories we won in our new budget agreement with the Congress, I am especially proud that this new budget will continue the critical investments we are making in America's central cities and neglected rural communities -- to light up these distressed communities with the spark of private investment. This truly is a budget agreement for America's communities.

The budget agreement includes $60 million in first-year funding to establish 20 new Empowerment Zones -- to create jobs, and revitalize our nation's inner cities and underserved rural communities. These new Empowerment Zones will help ensure that amid all of today's prosperity, no one in our cities and rural communities is left behind.

Congress originally rejected our call for new Empowerment Zones, but we fought for and won $45 million for the first year for 15 new urban zones, $10 million for the first year for five new rural zones, and $5 million for 20 new rural Enterprise Communities. We simply refused to accept defeat in our fight to expand this important program -- and I thank Secretary Cuomo and Secretary Glickman for their leadership in this effort. We remain strongly committed to seeking full funding from Congress to support these zones over the next 10 years.

The new Empowerment Zones will also share $500 million in new tax incentives for job creation that were approved by the Congress in the 1997 Tax Payer Relief Act.

Our investment in the new Empowerment Zones will serve as a catalyst to attract more funds in private investment. Cities and underserved rural communities designated as Empowerment Zones create successful partnerships for revitalization between government , non-profits, the business community and neighborhood residents. In addition to creating jobs, work force development and business opportunities in economically distressed neighborhoods, the new Empowerment Zones will help expand the supply of affordable housing, improve public safety, clean up environmental pollution, upgrade infrastructure, and provide affordable health care and child care.

The Department of Housing and Urban Development will select 15 new Empowerment Zones by January 1, to each receive $3 million in grants in the first year. The Department of Agriculture will select five new rural Empowerment Zones in coming months, to each receive $2 million in grants in the first year. The Department of Agriculture will also select 20 new rural Enterprise Communities, by January 1, 2000, that will each receive $250,000 in grants in the first year.

Communities across the nation will compete for these funds because the Enterprise Zones are a proven success story. The existing zones located in Baltimore, New York City, Atlanta, Detroit, Chicago, Philadelphia-Camden, Los Angeles and Cleveland and the existing rural zones in the Mississippi Delta, Kentucky Highlands and the Rio Grande Valley in Texas have already made substantial progress.

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