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ICIC Convenes National Leaders To Focus on Strengthening Urban Economies.

New policies to stimulate the struggling U.S. economy must include America's inner cities. Urban recovery could serve as a national model; neglect could be devastating.

MIAMI -- At a time when economic uncertainty is spreading across the country, a broad coalition of corporate, civic, policy, and academic leaders from around the U.S. will gather today in Miami at the ICIC's sixth annual Inner City Economic Forum (ICEF) Summit determined to ensure that America's long-neglected inner cities are not left out of future stimulus plans. Now in its sixth year, ICEF is a nationally recognized for its success in formulating and implementing an action agenda for market-led inner city revitalization.

With a change in leadership due in Washington and at a time of economic and financial distress for the entire nation, the future of America's inner cities is at a crossroad. In a robust economy inner cities have had success drawing attention to their case for inclusion. But when hardships are widespread, analysts say, there is a danger that low-income urban neighborhoods will fall back into obscurity.

"The current economic crisis poses dangers for inner city economies, but it also presents an opportunity for policymakers," said Michael Porter, founder and CEO of the Initiative for a Competitive Inner City, co-sponsor of the forum. "The conditions are in place for inner cities to serve as models for national economic recovery. Targeted initiatives for infrastructure repair and business stimulation could produce immediate and tangible results. Ignoring inner cities, on the other hand, would create a drag on the economy that would have broad implications," said Porter, who is also a professor at Harvard Business School.

The ICEF meeting in Miami presents a timely opportunity for policymakers, and business and civic leaders to ensure that inner city economic development and revitalization is positioned at the forefront of the federal agenda over the next decade. This year's ICEF Summit, co-sponsored by ICIC and the Brookings Institution's Metropolitan Policy Program, will focus on "Putting the Inner City First." The collaboration between ICIC and Brookings brings inner cities into sharper focus as economic entities, while at the same time a part of broader metropolitan areas. Policies and economic initiatives must be developed with recognition of their unique characteristics.

Miami Mayor Manny Diaz, a respected voice for inner city revitalization, is representing the host city at the ICEF Forum. Bruce Katz, vice president and director of Brooking's Metropolitan Policy Program, who brings a policy expertise unmatched in the field, also will be in attendance. "We must work together and face the problems of inner cities head on," Porter added. "Inaction and indifference are not intelligent options."

"Inner cities play a significant but underleveraged role in broader metropolitan economies. Building on the real assets of these places is a competitively wise and fiscally smart strategy for the federal government to pursue. And the energy and environmental returns associated with reinvestment provide a pressing rationale for refocusing federal investments," says Katz.

The ICEF Summit was founded by the Initiative for a Competitive Inner City (ICIC), a national, non-partisan, not-for-profit organization founded in 1994 by Harvard Business School Professor Michael E. Porter. Professor Porter, a renowned expert in international business competitiveness, shifted his focus to the study of the competitiveness of inner cities as business locations. The ICEF Summit is the country's only national leadership network focused on business-led inner city economic development. Founded in 2003, the ICEF is an ambitious effort to provide direction for and infuse energy into a national movement around the revitalization of America's inner cities. It has emerged as a powerful mechanism for generating innovative ideas on inner city economic development and transforming ideas into action.

Summit 2008 will be a unique and timely event that examines the current critical transition point of economic and political change in America. Professor Porter will deliver a presentation on "Putting the Inner City First: Making the Case for an Inner City Economic Policy." In addition, both the McCain and Obama Presidential Campaigns will be represented by urban policy experts who will explain and debate their candidates' views. Other sessions will focus on the role federal policy can play in a sustainable, business-led revitalization of America's inner cities, particularly in critical areas such as infrastructure, workforce training, and capital and investment flows.

During the event, participants will collaborate with leading policy experts and urban practitioners to discuss and define concrete recommendations for business development and job creation in inner city economies. As a result of these Summit discussions, ICIC and Brookings will collaborate to develop policy recommendations for an inner cities agenda based on conference discussions.

In addition to Professor Porter and the Brookings Institution's Bruce Katz, 2008 Summit speakers include former HUD Secretary Henry Cisneros; Kevin Kelly, Assistant Commissioner, New York City Department of Small Business Services; and Stefan Pryor, Deputy Mayor of Newark, NJ. For more information about the 2008 Summit, visit www.icic.org.
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Publication:Business Wire
Date:Sep 25, 2008
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