Rep. Capuano Testifies in Support of Empowerment Zones
June 9, 2000 -- Rep. Michael Capuano testified in support of continued funding for Round II Empowerment Zones (EZ) and Enterprise Communities (EC) before a House Subcommittee this week. In 1997, the City of Boston was awarded an Empowerment Zone designation, qualifying for $100 million in federal funding over ten years as well as targeted tax incentives for new investment in distressed neighborhoods.
"Unfortunately, the federal government has not lived up to that funding promise. In the last two fiscal years, empowerment zone communities received only $6.6 million - $14.4 million less that anticipated. We must fulfill our commitment to these communities," stated Rep. Mike Capuano, co-chair of the EZ/EC Congressional Caucus. The purpose of the Empowerment Zone and Enterprise Community Initiative is to create jobs and business opportunities in the most economically distressed areas of inner cities and the rural heartland.
The Boston Empowerment Zone is making significant strides in bringing economic opportunity to several of the City's distressed neighborhoods. One example of the innovative work being done is the School to Career (STC) Program. The business community, the public school system and local non-profits work together to identify businesses in the EZ willing to serve as mentors to students.
STC program participants receive job training and learn about career opportunities. Students then utilize the skills learned through partnerships with participating businesses. In just two short years, over 300 students living in the EZ have benefited from this program. "The federal government's ongoing commitment to the Round II EZ/ECs is essential so that programs like School-to-Career can continue to serve our young people. Due to the promised federal funding commitment, the Boston EZ secured over $400 million in private sector investment. These funds could be lost if the federal government walks away from their promise to these communities. If that happens, thousands of residents will lose out on new jobs and new economic opportunity," continued Rep. Mike Capuano.
The bipartisan EZ/EC Congressional Caucus was successful in securing a full funding commitment for EZ/EC communities for the third year of funding from President Clinton and Speaker Hastert.
"Our work is not over though. We will continue to work to secure full, mandatory funding. The government made a promise to these communities. We must fulfill that promise and make the Round II EZ/ECs whole," stated Rep. Mike Capuano.