April 4, 2001

Continuing Success of the New American City
Joint Statement of National Priorities by Mayors and Corporate Leaders

The cities of America are experiencing a historic renaissance. Headlines in major national newspapers, data from the 2000 Census, the continued growth of the Gross Metropolitan Product in cities across the nation, and the report recently released by the Fannie Mae Foundation, "The Urban Turnaround"-all evidence points to one fact: cities are back.

America's Mayors have been the catalysts for this remarkable renaissance. Today's Mayors have styled themselves as entrepreneurs, as metropolitan CEOs. Our cities are safer, because the Mayors have put more police on the streets, better trained and with better technology. Our cities are economically stronger, because Mayors have recruited businesses from around the world to locate in central cities, and supported programs and policies that help businesses to grow. Our cities have more cultural and recreational amenities to offer, because Mayors have created more parks and open space, and built more museums, sports stadium, and musical and theatrical venues.

This success has been achieved in large part through public/private partnerships with the business community-corporate leaders who share the Mayors' vision for the success of the New American City. These leaders recognize that the continued growth of America's economy is dependent, in large measure, upon the strength of cities and their businesses-the engines of this nation's economic growth.

To continue America's economic growth, we must open a national dialogue about specific areas in which public and private investment strategies can remove barriers to continued growth in cities, and create new opportunities and resources. By convening this Summit America's Mayors and corporate leaders bring a strong message to the Administration and Congress: Mayors and the private sector, working together, have innovative ideas about what policies will help our nation continue to grow and prosper.

In this spirit, we will work with the Administration, congress, and other key stakeholders to pursue and further the following priorities for America's cities:

Public Safety:The federal government has historically been a partner in helping to reduce crime through programs that support community policing, new technology and crime prevention. The federal government must continue this partnership, while providing increased flexibility, especially in light of demographic trends and the expectation that some 600,000 convicts will be leaving prisons and re-entering our cities this year alone - a reality that could contribute to increased crime rates if not anticipated.

Housing Production: There is a critical need for more affordable housing in our cities. Housing costs continue to escalate, while the supply of affordable housing dwindles. An increasing number of working families pays more than 50% on their income for housing. The waiting lists for housing assistance has either increased or remained static year after year, and fewer middle income families can afford homes in many metropolitan housing markets. We propose a housing production program that would provide grants for new construction, substantial rehabilitation preservation of multifamily housing, and homeownership assistance.

Brownfields: We support legislation to accelerate the recycling of the many thousands of underutilized and abandoned properties in cities and across the U.S. by reforming federal liability rules to protect innocent party investors and providing resources to facilitate the cleanup and redevelopment of these sites.

21st Century Rail Transit: The nation must make a significant investment to partner with states on the accelerated deployment of high-speed rail connections between cities and with local areas on the many commuter, light rail and other rail projects underway in metropolitan areas throughout the nation.

Environmental Infrastructure: We call for investment and greater support for public/private partnerships to improve the cost-efficiency of water and wastewater systems, focusing on capital needs required to expand and modernize the critical systems.

Skills Gap: "Educating for the New Economy" is vital to any investment partnership with the private sector in cities. A critical component of these partnerships is a well-educated and trained workforce. Necessary to achieving a well-educated and trained workforce are 1) ensuring federal tax credits for school construction as a part of any tax proposal; 2) adequate funding for training our young people, laid-off workers and other adults; and 3) partnerships with and cooperation of the business community.

Local Parks and Recreation Programs and Other Amenities: Local parks and recreation programs have shown to be valuable assets to cities. Thus it is important that support be made available to develop and maintain parks and recreation programs. The Land and Water Conservation Fund and the Urban Park and Recreation Recovery Program must be fully funded. Congress should pass the Conservation and Reinvestment Act, which provides for this funding.

Other amenities offered by cities such as museums, sports stadiums and arenas, and other cultural facilities, often play a vital, but unheralded, role in maintaining and attracting investment in cities. Any impediments to their development must be removed.

[This statement was issued by The United States Conference of Mayors. Corporate leaders who joined in the statement include Andrew Woodward, Chair of Bank of America Mortgage and President of the Mortgage Bankers of America, Tom Jacob, Chair and CEO of Chase Manhattan Mortgage, James Murphy, President of New England Realty Services, Mike Stark, President of U. S. Filter, and George Cloutier, CEO of American Management Services.]


©2004 U.S. Conference of Mayors