Thank you, and good morning. Welcome to the Community
Renewal Implementation Conference.
I want to acknowledge the leadership of Senator Rick Santorum
and Congressman J.C. Watts in partnering with us to make the 2002
Community Renewal Implementation Conference possible. They both
care deeply about America's distressed urban and rural area. In
fact, their legislation created the Renewal Community concept.
I appreciate their compassion.
I also want to acknowledge the leadership of HUD Assistant Secretary
The President and I could not have picked a better man to head
up HUD's Office of Community Planning and Development. Roy has
brought us a wealth of expertise from his years of service as
mayor of Syracuse, and the city's loss when he left there to join
HUD was the nation's gain.
Finally - but most importantly - welcome to the local leaders
representing our first round of Renewal Communities and third
round of Empowerment Zones. And congratulations. I am very pleased
that you have chosen to take part in this unique effort to promote
economic development, stimulate job growth, and create affordable
You are here because even though your communities face tremendous
obstacles, you have a strong commitment to achieving economic
growth and prosperity. We are here to help you succeed.
As a sign of just how deeply this commitment runs, when we announced
the 40 renewal communities and eight empowerment zones in January,
we created more areas of community renewal - with that one act
- than the federal government created during the previous eight
years put together.
The Administration has high expectations for our Community Renewal
Initiative. We are excited about the opportunities ahead, and
what they will mean for the people who live, work, shop, and learn
in your communities. If the level of participation in this conference
is any indication, you are just as enthusiastic. Nearly every
new Renewal Community and Empowerment Zone is represented here.
That is a record level of attendance.
It suggests to me that our partners on the state and local level
are hungry for this sort of encouragement and support from the
As representatives of your communities, you are the ambassadors
of the Community Renewal Initiative. When you leave here tomorrow,
it will be your job to market the program back home and convince
businesses looking to expand or move, to do it in your community.
We have given you the most important tool - $22 billion in available
tax relief that you can put to work creating jobs, growing businesses,
cleaning brownfields, and building houses. Now we want to help you
use it effectively to achieve the fullest possible level of community
The effectiveness of the Community Renewal Initiative depends
on your ability to communicate its potential to your communities.
Past experience tells us that in areas where tax incentives are
available, they are not widely used - and most often because eligible
businesses do not know that such incentives exist. It is difficult
to make a program effective when the business community, the chambers
of commerce, and even locally elected officials do not know about
This is why we invited you to Washington - to share ideas on
how you can effectively communicate the value of the Community
Renewal Initiative in your communities. So we look to you to be
the program's salespeople, cheerleaders, spokesmen and spokeswomen.
If you do not leave this conference excited to begin aggressively
marketing these new tax incentives to your communities, we have
not done our job.
The Community Renewal Initiative brings communities together
through public and private partnerships to attract the investment
necessary for sustainable economic and community development.
The Initiative recognizes that local communities can best identify
and develop solutions to the problems they face.
The way we have structured this program is very different from
the way government did things in the past.
The Initiative takes a revolutionary approach to creating jobs,
business opportunities, and affordable housing by helping private
industry flourish not through grants, but through tax relief.
The President has made it very clear that tax relief is a key component
of his economic growth agenda. Tax incentives are investments in
communities that will attract private capital in a way that grants
do not and offer businesses a more dependable way to benefit their
bottom line than the old method of awarding grants.
The tax relief comes in many different forms.
Through wage credits, companies can benefit by hiring workers
who live in the Empowerment Zone or Renewal Community area. Reducing
or even eliminating capital gains is another example of how a
business can significantly reduce its tax liability by locating
in these areas. Accelerated depreciation and low-cost bond financing
can help businesses underwrite the cost of plants and equipment.
Another important point about the tax incentives is the fact
that they are retroactive for the Round One and Round Two Empowerment
These tax incentives could not have come at a better time. This
critical partnership between the public and private sectors will
help businesses grow in some of our country's most distressed,
underused, high-poverty, and high-unemployment areas. These are
communities such as south central Los Angeles, Harlem, and the
southwestern border areas known as colonias - communities where
two million people make their homes.
The growth in business will give distressed neighborhoods an
economic boost to help drive revitalization, provide jobs, and
ultimately build a foundation for stronger communities.
The Community Renewal Initiative offers residents and businesses
the opportunities and resources to overcome seemingly insurmountable
problems. Vacant lots or abandoned buildings will become new business
complexes and affordable housing. Residents will find new employment
opportunities. Support services including childcare, education,
and healthcare will be strengthened.
In addition, many communities possess undervalued assets such
as vintage housing, convenience to mass transit, well-established
churches, and universities. If packaged and utilized properly,
these assets can create enormous value for residents and extraordinary
opportunities for investors.
The Administration is working to create an environment that gives
distressed urban and rural communities reason to be hopeful for
the future. We believe that when private industry flourishes in
these communities, it has direct and positive impact. The infusion
of money created by the tax incentives will be spent within the
community - in local stores, on local services, enriching local
Earlier this month, I visited Detroit. Detroit was one of the
first six cities chosen as an Empowerment Zone, and was awarded
a Renewal Community designation this year. The partnerships the
city has developed as a result have sparked a remarkable transformation,
both in Detroit itself, and in the attitudes of its residents.
Some of the projects that have taken root include a new effort
to help low-income and physically challenged citizens find transportation
to and from their jobs, learning centers focused on helping seniors
use computers for their everyday needs, and health centers located
within Detroit schools.
The people of Detroit have every reason to feel hopeful about their
city. So will the citizens of your communities, once they
see the Community Renewal Initiative at work.
Since the concept of the Empowerment Zone was first announced
in 1994, HUD has played a central role in the program's planning,
development, and implementation. By far, our most important job
as the lead agency is to share information about successful revitalization
strategies with our community partners. We do that through conferences
such as this, satellite broadcasts, monthly teleconferences, broadcast
faxes, and regular telephone conference calls. And in the months
and years ahead, we will work closely with you to identify and
provide solutions to any problems you encounter as you implement
your strategic plans.
Another benefit of having you come together like this is to give
you a chance to share ideas among yourselves, and hear success
stories from communities that have already begun the process of
educating local businesses about the tax relief. Our local partners
have some innovative projects underway that are raising awareness
and starting a rumble of excitement, with the hope of attracting
new businesses to their communities.
I urge you to be equally creative in marketing your community.
As its name suggests, the Community Renewal Initiative is community
driven. You get to decide what happens in your neighborhoods.
This approach makes the most sense - no one is in a better position
to make decisions that benefit folks on the local level than the
community leaders themselves.
So we are relying on you to find ways to translate the enthusiasm
that you and I share for the work ahead, into a wave of excitement
that inspires entire communities. It is going to take work - in
many cases, you will have to battle the perception that tax incentives
are complicated and uninteresting, and far from the quick "shot
in the arm" a potential partner might be looking for. But
I am confident that you can go back to your communities and make
the case that incentives benefit everyone.
Being designated as a Renewal Community or an Empowerment Zone
is only the first step, because the designation itself is just a
tool. It is how you use that tool to breathe new life into your
communities that will determine how successful you are. HUD is here
to help you in any way that we can. This conference is an important
resource. I challenge you to take the information you gather here
this week, share it with your partners back home, and through your
participation in the Community Renewal Initiative, help bring hope
to areas where today there is none - one family, one neighborhood,
and one community at a time.
Content Archived: March 16, 2010