Press Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 21, 2000

Contact:
Jubi Headley, Public Affairs
(202) 861-6766

Andrew Hudson, Spokesman for Mayor Wellington Webb
(303) 640-2722

Conference of Mayors President Speaks Before German Parliamentary Group On the Role of Cities in the International Economy

See Berlin Photos
Read Mayor Webb's Remarks in Berlin

Berlin, March 19 — Today Conference President and Denver Mayor Wellington Webb became just the third American to speak before the German Parliament in the Reichstag (or Parliamentary building), after United States Vice President Al Gore.

Webb delivered the keynote address before more than 2000 German and American delegates at the third biennial New Traditions Conference, "The Atlantic World: From Partnership to Community?" Webb was asked to speak about the economic, social and political contributions of cities in the international arena.

"In modern times, federal jurisdictions have constituted the principal intersection between different nations and peoples," Webb told the delegates. "But the New Economy and the new technology have changed that dramatically. In the increasingly diverse and decentralized economic and cultural ties across national borders, our cities and regions play a vital role…. I suspect that Germany's regional economies are equally vital to your national economy."

As evidence of the heightened economic prominence of cities Webb cited data from a recent Standard & Poor's DRI report, which demonstrates how the Unites States' largest cities and counties-America's 'economic engines'-have propelled America's unprecedented economic boom. The report, U. S. Metro Areas: the Engines of America's Growth, showed that metropolitan areas in 1998 accounted for 84 percent of the nation's gross domestic product, and the same percentage of the nation's jobs.

"In the United States, both major political parties are coming to recognize the growing importance of cities and metropolitan regions….the federal government is slowly ceding more authority on issues such as health care, transportation, economic development, and welfare to state and local governments," Mayor Webb continued. "Sometimes, it is done reluctantly, and on a small scale, but it is a trend that has enormous popular appeal in our country."

As an example, Mayor Webb cited a list of accomplishments that have helped Denver achieve unprecedented economic prosperity, including:

  • Denver's record low 3.1 percent unemployment rate,
  • The reduction of violent crime by more than 44 percent,
  • Plans for converting a former U.S. airforce base and a former airport into communities of homes, businesses, and parks, in addition to numerous smaller-scale projects to revitalize and transform abandoned sites for residential and business use,
  • A thriving arts community, and
  • The success of Denver International Airport, now the sixth-busiest airport in the United States and the 10th busiest in the world. (38 million travelers passed through DIA in 1999; 1,371 flights daily.)

"We have a strong commitment to reforming city services and running our city like a private business but with a public mission. I believe these are the characteristics of any successful city," Mayor Webb asserted.

"Like cities throughout the globe, we continue to face challenges, with poverty concentrated in our central urban communities and the constant currents of jobs and people moving out into the suburbs. But I believe that our great cities will continue to prosper, particularly in this century, as custodians of the past and as the engines for our future. That they will serve and enrich our nations as invigorating and appealing alternatives to isolation and tedium and as places where human contact can flourish and the human spirit can soar."

For a full copy of Mayor Webb's remarks, or for photos from Mayor Webb's visit to Berlin, please visit the Conference's web site, www.usmayors.org.

The United States Conference of Mayors is the official nonpartisan organization of cities with populations of 30,000 or more. There are about 1,100 such cities in the United States. Each city is represented in the Conference by its chief elected official, the mayor.

#