HUD Archives: News Releases

HUD No. 00-152
Further Information: For Release
In the Washington, DC area: 202/708-0685 Weds., 2:30 p.m. EDT
Or contact your local HUD office June 28, 2000


COLUMBUS, OHIO – Vice President Al Gore and Housing and Urban Development Secretary Andrew Cuomo today announced that a new $10 million Community Empowerment initiative will generate up to $100 million to help revitalize some of the nation’s most distressed urban neighborhoods.

The new Community Empowerment Fund pilot is part of HUD’s Economic Development Initiative (EDI), which enables communities to obtain long-term, low-interest, federally-guaranteed loans for up to 10 times the amount of their EDI grant for a wide range of economic and community development projects. Since 1994, HUD has awarded $500 million in economic development grants and has committed more than $4 billion in Section 108 guaranteed loans. An estimated 300,000 jobs have resulted from the investment.

The pilot program is a tool available to Empowerment Zones and Enterprise communities, as well as other communities across the country. "Empowerment Zones and Enterprise Communities are based on a very simple idea: Local communities know what works best for them but they need resources," Vice President Gore said. "The goal of Empowerment Zones is not to strangle communities with tons of new red tape and government bureaucracies. The goal is to provide tax breaks and incentives to attract private investments and create jobs."

"Too many people are witnessing the nation’s greatest economic expansion from the sidelines," said Secretary Cuomo. "The Community Empowerment Fund is a powerful and proven tool for building private enterprise and creating jobs in America’s low-income urban and rural areas."

The announcement was made at the 6th Annual White House Community Empowerment Conference in Columbus.

  • Cuomo also announced new initiatives to help Empowerment Zones and Enterprise Communities including:

  • 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.

"Many people have been talking about the digital divide, but at NorthPoint we have a bias for action," said Liz Fetter, NorthPoint Communication’s president and chief executive officer. "By partnering with HUD to provide Internet access to computer centers in low-income neighborhoods, we make the tools found on the Internet available to people who previously could not afford them."

"PowerUP understands that it takes more than a computer to prepare today’s kids for success in the digital age," said Rae Grad, chief executive officer of PowerUP, one of the nation’s leading non-profit organizations preparing young people to compete in the digital economy. "It takes a number of partners working together and we commend HUD for its vision in improving the lives of young people through technology and resources in our country’s underserved communities."

The White House Community Empowerment Conference brought together more than a thousand community leaders, elected officials and grassroots organizers to discuss the success and shared goals of the Empowerment Zones and Enterprise Communities. Other conference speakers included Agriculture Secretary Dan Glickman, Education Secretary Bill Riley, Small Business Administration Administrator Aida Alvarez, FCC Chairman Bill Kennard and Denver Mayor Wellington Webb.

Funds made available under the Community Empowerment Fund pilot will be distributed by competition. The Notice of Funds Availability (NOFA) is on public display at the Federal Register and is expected to be published on June 30. The pilot program makes use of existing HUD Section 108 loan authority, will employ innovative private sector financial engineering techniques, reduce risk to participating communities’ Community Development Block grants, and will help lay the groundwork for a secondary market in community economic development loans.


U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development

Comments on Empowerment Zones/
Enterprise Community Initiative

Sen. Charles Robb (VA) - "Without question, our nation is experiencing good economic times, but we also need to include those striving to participate in our economic prosperity. One of the best ways to achieve this is by supporting the work of the Empowerment Zone/Enterprise Community Program. The Norfolk-Portsmouth Empowerment Zone, with 500 new jobs and hundreds of new homeowners, is just one example of the success of this program."

Sen. Byron Dorgan (ND) - "The Empowerment Zones Initiative is a wonderful program that has significantly helped to revitalize the underserved and rural areas of this country. Since being selected as the first EZ to specifically address outmigration, the Griggs-Steele Empowerment Zone in my state of North Dakota has made significant strides in economic development activity including wind energy production and new manufacturing facilities that will help to retain and even bring new people to the community. This wouldn’t be possible if it weren’t for the empowerment zones program.

Sen. Robert Torricelli (NJ) - "I applaud the success of the Empowerment Zones Initiative and its crusade to aid communities in economic development. The program helps residents and businesses gain the benefits of renewal and provides support for them to continue the hard work of enhancing their future."

Rep. Rosa L. DeLauro (CT) - "The New Haven Empowerment Zone has succeeded because it is a federally supported, but locally driven effort. By bringing together businesses, community and city leaders, the New Haven Empowerment Zone has created a partnership for progress and economic growth. The public investment of the Empowerment Zone has leveraged over $400 million in private funds."

Rep. James Clyburn (SC) - "The EZ/EC designation carries with it the clout of the federal government and the earmark of a community committed to improving its quality of life." This initiative provides the tools and the seed money, but it is the nurturing supplied by area residents that insures an EZ/EC success. I can think of no other program that can have such a widespread, positive impact on an economically depressed community, and I am fortunate to have witnessed its dramatic effects firsthand."

EZ/EC Congressional Statements

Rep. Deborah Pryce (OH) - "The Empowerment Zones and Enterprise Communities program has helped revitalize America's communities, including Columbus' urban center. I am so pleased to have been a part of forging an agreement between the House Republican leadership and the White House that will build upon that success. The bi-partisan proposal will move under-served urban and rural areas toward the same growth and prosperity as the rest of the nation."

Rep. Greg Meeks (NY) - "Empowerment Zones will lay the foundation for the revitalization of our distressed communities. The partnerships between the public and private sectors are a natural relationship for reinvestment activities to occur and benefit all."

Rep. Mary Bono (CA) - "Empowerment Zones create a partnership between government and private enterprise to offer opportunities to areas that have been left behind. In my California district, we have unemployment rates in certain areas that are 30 percent or more. This should not occur given our strong economy. Empowerment Zones represent hope for these areas."


Content Archived: December 13, 2009