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Mayors laud Clinton enterprise zone proposal.

"I congratulate you on an innovative plan that deals with the depressed cities and towns of America," Mayor Tom Bradley of Los Angeles, past president of the National League of Cities, told President Clinton last week in response to his proposal to create 110 urban and rural enterprise zones in cities and towns across the country:

"I'm pleased that you've recognized that a comprehensive yet innovative approach must be taken. It takes not only tax incentives, grants, but it also takes the kind of neighborhood involvement that will make this plan truly a product of the communities that are going to be served. I believe it offers a great opportunity for us to show that America can work, and the cities and towns are the heart of what happens in this country."

Under the two-part proposal the Clinton administration released last week, 10 urban and rural communities would be eligible for selection as super zones or "Empowerment Zones" eligible for more than $3.2 billion in tax incentives. One hundred cities and town would be eligible to be designated as Enterprise Communities, eligible, along with the super zones for another $900 million in tax incentives, up to $1 billion in grants, priority for other federal assistance, and a new, "one-stop" approach to all federal programs and regulations. No city could be selected before next year.

The plan would provide much greater assistance per zone in the super zones than in the plan passed by Congress and vetoed by former President Bush last year. The administration. sent the 51-page tax portion of the new initiative to Congress last week to be incorporated in the tax bill which the House Ways and Means Committee will begin action on this week.

For cities and towns, the key provision includes new authority for any designated city or town to issue municipal tax-exempt economic development bonds. The legislation includes NLC recommendations to provide incentives for banks to purchase the bonds and to provide incentives for states to target assistance to their most distressed communities. The bulk of the tax incentives would go to the super zones in the form of employment and training tax credits to employers for residents of the zones.

According to the administration, the remaining portion would reinvent government by consolidating "episodic" government programs by offering a single point of contact for responding to requests from local governments for support and waivers from some federal regulations and requirements to allow cities to implement their own strategic plans for using existing federal programs and resources more effectively.

The administration also said it would propose authorization of $500 million in enterprise grants and $500 million in community policing assistance for all 110 selected areas. An additional $3 billion would be targeted from other new and existing programs.

The administration described the proposal as a means to "empower depressed urban and rural communities to merge job creation with sustainable community growth through one coordinated, holistic response."

In order to be eligible to compete for selection, cities and towns would have to meet minimum population, size, and distress criteria. Cities would be required to demonstrate the effectiveness of a strategic plan and meet other requirements set by a new Enterprise Board.

In the same teleconference with Mayor Bradley, U.S. Conference of Mayors President William Althaus, mayor of York, Pa. said, "I'm delighted today to deliver to you the endorsement and the very strong support of the Conference. It is just a superb program."

Mayor Kurt Schmoke of Baltimore told the President: "You continue to operate in a fashion that's consistent with your view that cities should be viewed as centers for expanding opportunities."
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Author:Shafroth, Frank
Publication:Nation's Cities Weekly
Date:May 10, 1993
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