Close to 100 city, county, state and a federal officials, from government to HUD, DOT, EPA, FLP, CRA’s, business owners, mayors, city managers and representatives attended the Green Zone Initiative workshop. Pictured,from r to l: Rep. Wilson, Congressman Cleaver and Anita Maltbia.
By Derek Joy
Congresswoman Frederica S. Wilson, (Dem., District 24) convened a green zone initiative impact zone initiative workshop at the Double Tree Grand Hotel.
Wilson orchestrated the event to urge cities in District 24 to take advantage of the billions of federal dollars for community improvements and economic development.
“Since the elimination of ear-marks in the federal budget process, cities are having a difficult time accessing federal dollars for community improvements and economic development,” said Wilson.
“There are billions of dollars in the federal budget that are left untapped annually because cities are not aware of the process for acquiring these funds. It is vital that municipalities in District 24 take advantage of the resources the federal government has to offer.
“It is also important that the public understands the role of their elected officials in ascertaining important assistance that taxpayers pay into,” added Wilson.
Hence the workshop was organized to address the process.
Representatives from the business community and com-munity activists joined officials of cities in District 24, including Miami Dade County, Miami, El Portal North Miami, North Miami Beach and Opa Locka.
“This is the time for us to take advantage of all the opportunities the federal government has available,” said Miami Commissioner Keon Hardemon, who welcomed the attendees and guests speakers.
Congressman Emanuel Cleaver, the former mayor of Kansas City, Mo., was the featured speaker. Cleaver is credited with engineering nearly $200 million in green impact zone funds that revitalized Kansas City and created hundreds of jobs.
“When our nation’s descent into economic chaos occurred, there $791 billion available to stimulate the economy. Most of it was in tax cuts. African Americans and Latinos missed out on the industrial revolution because of discrimination, legal and otherwise.
“The next generation will be greening. We’ll probably use some new forms of energy and some that are not on the table yet. Our goal is to make our cities attractive, liveable where people want to move here.”
According to Cleaver, who enlisted the support of Anita Maltbia as executive director of the Missouri Green Impact Zone of Kansas City, the plan was to attack a 150 area where 1,000 structures had been lost. The area also had the highest homicide rate in Missouri.
Beginning in 2009, the area first received a $50 million grant, then $100 million and $27 million, all which helped revitalize Kansas City, including bus rapid transit lines.
“We were able to get these neighborhoods to come together and work together. I’m a member of Congress. We don’t run programs in Congress. We try to get people to run programs and work together,” said Cleaver.
The key to securing green impact zone initiative funding, according to Maltbia, is that area must be environmentally, economically and socially sustainable.
“There are three inter-related principles,” said Maltbia. “Doing things upscale, people and places, along with people in the community as well as people who control resources need to be informed.”
HUD Administrator Steven Shepherd noted how the city Opa Locka has excelled through the efforts of the Opa Locka CDC, while citing the feasibility study in Liberty City was recently funded by Citi Bank.
“The idea with the green impact zone initiative is like that of the Challenge Grants that were created in 2010,” said Shepherd. “The idea is to align federal investments in the environment for sustainability.”
Added Wilson: “We want to improve our cities and the quality of life for the people we represent. It’s important for our elected officials to understand.”