Remarks to the North End Community


Office of the Press Secretary
(Hartford, Connecticut)

For Immediate Release November 4, 1999


Artists Collective
Hartford, Connecticut

5:40 P.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much, first, to you Dick Huber, for being such a faithful member of our New Markets team. You started out with us in Atlanta; you made the trip to Appalachia and to the Delta and other places; and you led me home to Hartford today for you. You know, the first time we were talking about this -- I should say this about Dick; he talks about how cynical he is. That's a front. I'm a politician, I recognize a front when I see one. (Laughter.)

He said, you know, I'm not so sure I'm happy about you taking all these other businessmen on this New Markets tour. It looks to me like there's a great business opportunity here and I hate for everybody else to find it before I do. And I want to come back to that, but I thank you.

I thank my longtime friend, the President of Trinity College, Evan Dobelle, and Heidi Miller from the Citigroup. And thank you, Robert Fiondella and all the other business leaders that are here. Thank you, Governor. Thank you, Congressman. And also Congressman Kanjorksi, who has been a faithful member of all of our tours. I thank Speaker Lyons and Senator Sullivan and all the other leaders who are here.

I want to say another word -- I'm particularly glad to be in Hartford with Congressman Larson because he's been after me to come here as well. And, Secretary Slater, thank you for making all these trips. And, Reverend Jackson, thank you for being such an inspiration for all of these efforts.

I want to thank the Collective founders, Jackie and Dollie McLean. (Applause.) I thought of giving up my speaking time and letting Jackie play. (Laughter.) And I appreciate the Hail To The Chief with the saxophone. And I just heard the jazz band upstairs -- they played an old Sonny Stipp (phonetic) tune that I knew back when I was a young man. I don't believe I'm good enough to play it anymore, but I was astonished at the musical quality of the people here. And it's a great gift to your community.

Today, you're hearing in words, rather than music, another sort of serenade for the people of this city. The corporate leaders together are pledging -- listen to this -- well over $200 million to the future of Hartford. That's one of the most impressive commitments of any city to developing the market potential of people who have not been part of our prosperity -- anywhere in the United States of America. And you should applaud them, support them, and be very proud of them. (Applause.)

They're all saying Hartford is our home, Hartford is worth working for, worth fighting for, worth believing in. And we are committed to work with you to succeed.

Today's announcements are just the latest sign of the renaissance of this city. Before I came here to the Artists Collective, I had a chance to meet some of the vendors at El Mercado, the Latino marketplace on Park Street. I actually had visited there in 1992, and I remarked, first of all, how excited I was to go back. I had a wonderful time there in '92. At the time I was battling with my weight, and they made it worse. I never wanted to leave any of the places. And I loved being back there today. And as far as I could see, everything was better than it was in '92, except for one thing. There was this picture of me when I was there in '92, and I look worse. But they look better. Everything else is better. (Laughter.) So I want to thank the people there for all the work that they have done.

Mr. Mayor, I want to compliment you on falling crime rates -- dramatically falling crime rates. We have the lowest crime rate in America in 30 years; lowest murder rate in 32 years. No single person can take credit for this, but every person who has supported community policing, responsible law enforcement policies and working together can take a lot of credit for it. So I thank you. (Applause.)

I also want to compliment everybody here who is responsible for the improvements we see in the schools here. I thank you for your commitment to the MetroHartford Millennium and Adriaen's Landing Projects. I thank Trinity College, working with HUD, for Frog Holler, where they are turning a once devastated brownfield into a remarkable 16-acre Learning Corridor. I'm pleased to announce that Citigroup has just committed a bill on the success of the learning corridor by offering more than $7.4 million in equity and debt capital to help rehabilitate 70 single-family homes in the neighborhood, and I appreciate that. (Applause.)

Let me just say this. One of the biggest problems we have in America right now is the product of our prosperity. There is not enough affordable housing for all the people who have jobs and have incomes, but because of the economy being so strong, they're still being priced out of the housing market. Therefore, there is an enormous opportunity if we can get the capital to the right place to create more jobs for people who still need them in rehabilitating existing structures in a way that will make them affordable for working people. So this is a very good thing, and I hope it will be built on, because you can, Governor, help people not only in Hartford, but in Bridgeport, in New Haven and all the other places that still need help in Connecticut.

And I want to say, if I might, I appreciate your being here, because I don't believe that this issue should be a partisan issue; I think all Americans want every American to have a chance to work, and I thank you. (Applause.)

I guess my message here is this: Number one, this is great; number two, let's build on it; number three, every other city in America should follow your lead. If we have now the lowest unemployment rate in 29 years and the lowest welfare rolls in 30 years, and the lowest poverty rates in 20 years, and the lowest minority unemployment rates ever recorded since we have been trying for about 30 years to separate them out, if we have all this in the longest peacetime expansion in history which, come February, will be the longest economic expansion in the history of America, if we can't take this opportunity to bring real hope to the people in places who have not been touched by this recovery, we will never get around to doing it.

So the first thing I want to say is, because we care about one another, it is the right thing to do, and possible. (Applause.) The second thing I want to say is, it's the smart thing to do. That's what Dick said the first time he talked about it. You would be amazed how much time I spend as your President trying to figure out how to keep this economic expansion going. You know, because if you read in the paper, about once every month or so there will be somebody saying the sky is finally going to fall, we can't keep this thing going anymore, inflation's around the corner or it's going to run out of steam.

But the truth is, I always felt if we could get rid of this terrible deficit and start bringing down our debt, if we could still have enough money to invest in our people and new technologies, and if we could keep our borders open so we'd have to be competitive and keep inflation down, we could really grow this economy for a long time. I gave that speech back in '92 and I didn't know if I was right or not, but you all proved that that was right.

Now, we have to say, how can we keep it going? How can we have growth without inflation? The answer is, invest in the people and places who still haven't felt the opportunity. They need the jobs. They need the businesses. They need the capital. They need the work. And they will be new customers. It is an inflation-free strategy to continue the growth of America, to find the people in places still not touched.

So what I want to say to you is, yes, we have a lot of people in the clergy here. You can say and you'd be right that it is the morally responsible thing to do for the business leaders of this community and this state and this nation to invest in these places. But you also should say, it is the economically smart thing to do, because it's one of the clearest ways we can continue to have this economic expansion with no inflation. It is a magic moment, and we dare not let it pass us by.

Now, what I'm trying to do at the federal level is to build a bipartisan coalition for giving the kind of tools you need to maximize the number of business people and investors who can participate. The Congress has already, on a bipartisan basis, passed a bill which appropriates some of the money we need to start our national effort. And now, I'm trying to secure agreement to pass a set of tax incentives and loan guarantees, basically tax credits and loan guarantees which would, for example, give -- let's just take Aetna or any other business -- the same financial incentives to invest in the inner-city in Hartford in a developing market in Hartford, or any other place in Connecticut, that they can get already to invest in a developing market in central America, in South America, in Asia, in Africa.

Now, I don't want to stop investing in those countries, but I do think that people in America with money ought to get the same tax breaks to invest in poor communities, in poor people in America we give them to invest around the world. (Applause.)

So I say to you, I am very grateful to Hartford for setting an example. I'm grateful for this vast and broad-based crowd of people for being here. But this is good business, as well as good social policy. We can be good citizens and actually improve the economy. And if enough of us believe that, then we can pass the laws we need to pass in Congress and get more people to follow the lead of the business investments we've seen here today. This is the right thing to do.

One hundred and thirty years ago, Mark Twain came here for the first time. I like Mark Twain -- we ought to all laugh and, besides, he was the first guy who said reports of his death had been greatly exaggerated -- something I came to appreciate more and more as I stayed in this business. (Laughter.)

Here's what he said about Hartford: "Of all the beautiful towns it has been my fortune to see, this is the chief. You do not know what beauty is if you have not been here." Thanks to your commitment, your pride, your faith in your city, the beauty is shining through again in new and different ways, with all kinds of different people, from all different countries and all different cultural backgrounds, contributing to a 21st century beauty for Hartford.

You can see it in the beautiful children I saw dancing upstairs, and all the work done here in the Artists Collective new home. You can see it in the pride of El Mercado and all those beautiful stores I saw up and down the avenue. You can see it in the brownfields transformed and the boarded homes made habitable again. This is what it means to develop America's New Markets, and we ought to give the same chance to every hard-working American in every community in this country. Thank you very much. (Applause.) Thank you.

I want to bring up here a man who was making this speech to me years ago, and whose Wall Street project pioneered the partnerships we want everywhere in America between business and government, to give people a chance and keep hope alive. Reverend Jesse Jackson. Thank you. (Applause.)

END 5:51 P.M. EST


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