Opening Remarks by Jonathan Fanton at the Announcement of Bipartisan Congressional Mayors’ Caucus
May 23, 2005 | Speech | Policy Research

Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen.  Congressman Turner and Congressman Capuano. Thank you for inviting me to join you today for the announcement of this important initiative for America's cities.   And thank you for your leadership in brining together this group which stands as a symbol of America’s dedication to a bright future for its cities.

I am Jonathan Fanton.  I am the president of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. For over two decades, MacArthur has been investing in programs to improve our nation's urban areas through community and economic development, affordable housing, and better regional planning.  We are based in Chicago, but our grantees are active across the country.

I am also here today as a member of the board of directors of Living Cities – a partnership of financial institutions and foundations that has invested almost $375 million in 23 cities throughout the country since 1991.  Our funds have leveraged an additional $14 billion to build homes, retail stores, schools, and community facilities for daycare, healthcare, and job training.  These investments have paid off with positive results: homes built and rehabilitated, businesses established, services provided, and jobs created.  That is why our collaborative has doubled its commitment to half a billion dollars in this decade.

In all 23 cities where we are active, we work closely with local mayors. Their leadership is vital to the strength of our communities. Living Cities' experience with America's mayors across the country has convinced us that this nation's cities are sources of untapped assets and opportunities.  Home to nearly half of all Americans, they are sites of innovation, engines of creativity, and pathways of opportunity for individual growth.  We are delighted to be here today and to make common cause with former mayors now in Congress. No one understands the potential our cities have to fulfill the promise of America better than you who have been their leaders. We welcome the formation of this bi-partisan caucus.

It is a source of great encouragement for our institutions to know there is a group of members of Congress with whom to work – people passionately committed to an optimistic view of America’s cities and deeply experienced about how to turn aspirations into reality.  During the last year, our conversations with Congressman Capuano and a tour of Chicago with Congressman Turner revealed their intuitive recognition of the challenges cities face and how the federal government can help.  By working together, this bi-partisan group will enhance the visibility of cities as powerful national assets in the global economy. 

Living Cities shares your vision of a bright future for America's cities and wants to help in any way we can.  In addition to increasing our financial commitment, we can also help with research that is useful to you as you weigh policy options.  With access to top-flight scholars and policy analysts we have already published studies on issues ranging from brownfields, historic preservation, and housing, to strategies for economic competitiveness.

The Mayors’ Caucus creates an extraordinary opportunity to address these issues and fashion a comprehensive vision for the federal role in strengthening cities across America.  You can count on our help and support.

Thank you.

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