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Local officials talk about making poverty reduction a top priority at home.

As poverty rates increase in central cities and in all parts of the country, and quality of life deteriorates for many inner city residents, a number of urban officials have started to look at ways cities might reduce poverty. One approach cities can take is to address urban poverty through their economic development capacity.

The following city officials agreed that reducing poverty should be one of their city's top economic development goals.

Joseph Marinucci

Creating Jobs For Our Residents Joseph Marinucci, Economic Development director, Cleveland, Ohio:

"We are involved in economic development activities for one specific purpose -- to create jobs for our residents. If our residents are unprepared to take advantage of job opportunities when they become available, we are falling to meet our goals. Sound education, job readiness and job training programs are part of a comprehensive strategy."

Dr. Louise Simmons

A Means To Alleviate Hardship Dr. Louise Simmons, councilmember, Hartford, Conn.:

"Economic development must be a key vehicle for reducing poverty. We have to see economic development as a means to alleviate hardship. We must look for ways to employ unemployed people and to engage in other economic growth activities for our residents."

Norman Rice

We Have An Obligation Norman Rice, mayor, Seattle, Wash.:

"We believe we have a special role and obligation to generate economic opportunity for low-income people. We've taken on this role for two reasons: 1) The economy benefits when all our citizens are working and contributing to our community; and 2) Ultimately, poverty will only be reduced by raising people's incomes. We must tailor our economic development activities to match or raise the skills of low-income people, and we must take advantage of opportunities in low-income neighborhoods through public investment to attract private capital to support community-driven enterprises and projects."

Ken Bacchus

When Jobs Move To The Suburbs. Ken Bacchus, councilmember, Kansas City, Mo.:

"We provide a variety of incentives for businesses to locate in our cities. A caveat to such incentives ought to include locating these businesses in areas which already have a ready workforce and an established insfrastructure, such as city auto plants which have been closed down. When jobs move out to the suburbs, many inner city residents can't even get there to apply for them. This shifts a burden onto public transportation."

Maryann Mahaffey

Cities Must Open Doors Maryann Mahaffey, Council president, Detroit, Mich.:

"Poverty contributes to school problems, health problems and limited job prospects. There are fewer opportunities to get factory jobs, which used to be the ticket to prosperity and the ability to raise a family. Unless cities provide these opportunities, we pay in the end. Cost shifting occurs. Social programs rise in cost simply from greater numbers of people in need, and because spending increases in these areas, infrastructure suffers. Therefore, pay equity, quality schooling, and quality vocational training become imperative."

Sheila Jackson Lee

Providing A Quality Place To Live Sheila Jackson Lee, councilmember, Houston, Tex:

"Part of reducing poverty is providing all families with a quality place to live. When you provide housing that residents can afford to own, your tax base will rapidly increase. The property tax base for any city is its lifeline. The city will benefit not only from property taxes, but by an increased flow of dollars into area businesses from these new consumers. And these core city consumers will have an impact on sales tax."

Woodrow Stanley

Poverty: The Undeniable Issue Woodrow Stanley, mayor, Flint, Mich.:

"Poverty reduction in this community is not merely a top economic development goal, it is a cornerstone in the foundation of our future. Poverty has become an undeniable issue as literally hundreds of residents are without jobs. Our community has initiated an Urban Investment Plan to reduce poverty which calls for the collaborative support of government, business, and social service/nonprofit organizations working together to not only jump-start the economy of this city, but also provide an effective road map for the rest of the nation."
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Title Annotation:Special Report: Cities and Towns Tackle Heavy Issues of Poverty
Author:Marinucci, Joseph; Simmons, Louise; Rice, Norman; Bacchus, Ken; Mahaffey, Maryann; Lee, Shelia Jacks
Publication:Nation's Cities Weekly
Date:Sep 13, 1993
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