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Cisneros praises RPA plan.

Housing Secretary Henry G. Cisneros came to New York to both praise and challenge the Regional Plan Association.

He told the Sixth Annual Regional Assembly gathered at the Marriott Marquis that their reports were taken seriously because they provided more than visions.

"This group went to work very meticulously and put the elements of the plans into effect," he said, referring to the first and second plans released in 1929 and 1968 respectively. "It's important to build support to get the new Third Regional Plan implemented," Cisneros continued, "and factor in market changes and shifts."

Communities like Atlanta, San Diego and Indianapolis are taking ideas similar to the RPA's and building regional prosperity, he said. Those communities that are the most successful, Cisneros observed, have three processes in common.

The communities develop a strategic sense for the future so they can become master of their own destiny. They must be inclusive in their planning, and thirdly, have a "commitment to action, not just to planning, not just to advocacy."

Those areas that are able to accomplish their objectives, Cisneros said, have "captured the Nike slogan: Just do it."

When planing processes are inclusive, they bring many different players together, he said.

"It's not good enough to do this on a haphazard basis," he added, noting a need for systematic forums. And while no one single person or power center can make things happen, "frequently, one interest group can keep things from happening."

New York has "an awful lot" to start with, he said, indicating the strong financial, business, transportation, media and fashion industries.

This region must also react and change with the growth of new technological industries, as well as the new educational requirements. The Secretary mentioned a visit to 55 Broad Street, the International Technology Center, which will "allow web communications to grow in New York City."

He also observed that changes in Federal health care policies could impact the cities and states, and noted that "interconnections to national policy act in ways that are not always visible and raise these big picture questions."

Cisneros praised the visions of the new Regional Plan, that includes a greensward to protect waterways and open space, a workforce strategy to link inner city schools with mainstream labor, and a commitment to strengthen transportation links and downtown business cores.

"All of these lend themselves to action," he said, adding it was "truly amazing to find such a group that has the patience... to put in place a vision for the 21st century and beyond."

Since regional economic initiatives always involve some role of the Federal government, Cisneros said the government can cooperate with regional leaders to develop initiatives.

"The government can serve as this region's partner as the welfare of the nation requires," he said, adding that a "point person" has been designated to work on elements of the Regional Plan.

He talked about areas where the Federal government can empower action, for instance by the Treasury enabling community financing and student loans.

He believes it is necessary to work on increasing affordable housing, so the workforce can live where growth is occurring. There is a need to renovate hospitals and outpatient facilities, and new job programs that relate less to the suppliers of training and more towards the suppliers of jobs, he said.

Economic development officials request that the Treasury re-interpret the Tax Code to make available general manufacturing incentives to those high-tech businesses that develop CD-Roms and web sites.

"Based on the success of stories such as the one I saw this morning," he said, referring to 55 Broad Street, "and other efforts to create smart buildings in Downtown financial districts, some have suggested that we revamp some of our real estate grant-related programs so that commercial landlords can redevelop their properties. Other officials have suggested that the Federal government offer tax incentives to facilitate and expedite this process."

Based on their experience in commercial revitalization efforts, city housing partnership officials have also suggested ways to enhance a broad base of housing availability and home ownership, Cisneros added.

"As we enter the 21st Century," he said, our most vital relationships will be shaped at the global, regional and neighborhood levels, so cities and regions have to learn to work cooperatively at many levels."

"Metropolitan regions serve as the basic building blocks of our society, of our national economy, and it is here that the outlines of America's competitive position are shaped for global competition," Cisneros explained. "It is here our most pressing social issues must be addressed across regional boundaries, and it is here we can best decide the kind of future we want and the kind of initiatives we will take to get there. You are doing it by thinking in terms of this plan and I congratulate you for it."
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Copyright 1996, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Title Annotation:New York State Housing Secretary Henry G. Cisneros; Regional Plan Association
Publication:Real Estate Weekly
Date:May 1, 1996
Words:801
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