Tuesday, December 9, 2008

A Call to Washington to Invest in Our Cities

Investing in MainStreet metropolitan economies, which comprise 90% of our gross domestic product and drive the national economy, is the most direct path to creating jobs and stimulating the business that can begin to reverse the current economic downturn. Yesterday I was joined by New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Chicago Mayor Richard Daley and Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, to renew our call for MainStreet Economic Recovery during a press conference on Capitol Hill, and to release the second report that inventories local ‘ready-to-go’ infrastructure projects – projects that could be started and completed in cities in just two calendar years -- if emergency federal funding were made available. We were also joined by House of Representatives Ways and Means Committee Chairman Charlie Rangel (NY).
Information on these projects has been submitted to the U.S. Conference of Mayors from hundreds of cities in all regions of the country and includes projects in ten different sectors including Community Development Block Grants, transit, highway infrastructure, green jobs, school modernization, public safety and public housing (see details at http://www.usmayors.org/).
Immediately following the press conference, we met with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in her office and then with Senate Majority Leader Reid and Assistant Senate Majority Leader Durbin to discuss the report and the MainStreet Economic Recovery plan.

Below are my remarks given during the press conference:

Main Street America’s economic crisis continues to worsen.

Since the start of the recession a year ago, our nation has lost nearly 2 million jobs. Over 10 million American workers are now unemployed.

These workers live and work in our cities, they live and work on Main Street.

Mayors also live and work on Main Street.

We see problems first and are the first to respond.

Mayors lead the metro economies, our nation’s economic engines, accounting for 86 percent of jobs, 90 percent of income and gross domestic product.

With a real sense of urgency, we met throughout the Summer to begin drafting our main street economic recovery plan.

Our plan calls for investments that will stimulate our economy by quickly creating jobs, fixing our aging infrastructure, increasing our global competitiveness and further reducing our carbon footprint.

In developing our plan, we asked our 1,200 member cities to provide us with a specific list of their 2009 and 2010 shovel-ready projects, their estimated cost and the number of jobs created.

To date, 427 cities of all sizes have responded. We have over 11,300 infrastructure projects “ready to go.”

They represent an investment of more than 73 billion dollars and will produce an estimated 848,000 jobs in 2009 and 2010.

These are real jobs, and a real return on taxpayer investment.

To reverse the current economic crisis, we must invest wisely. We must invest where we get the greatest return: in “Main Street.”

We are not here for a bailout. We are here to help build-out America, and put America back to work, and to strongly endorse President Elect Obama’s call for a long-term economic recovery plan that creates or saves 2.5 million jobs over the next two years, and that invests in a sustainable, energy-saving infrastructure.

We are prepared to work with President Elect Obama and our congressional leaders to measure our progress, to spend the dollars timely or lose them, and to account for the number of jobs created and the energy saved.

The conference will continue to collect information from our members and issue our next update during the first week of January.

- Manny