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Office of the Vice President

For Immediate Release June 5, 1998

Washington, DC -- Vice President Gore today announced several new private sector commitments to invest in low-income communities, and he launched an Administration initiative to encourage large businesses to work with local small businesses in distressed areas.

Businesses are learning that in our new economy, one of the best opportunities for investment is in our distressed communities, the Vice President said. By working in partnership with the private sector, we can make our communities and our Nation stronger and more competitive.

Convening the first in a series of White House Business and Entrepreneurial Roundtables on Community Empowerment, the Vice President and CEOs from Pfizer Inc., Rite Aid Corporation, Pathmark Stores, Inc., BankBoston Corporation, Blimpie International, Mexican Industries, United Bank, Urban City Foods and Prudential Insurance unveiled new private-sector investments in cities and distressed areas of our nation. Earvin Magic Johnson, CEO of Magic Johnson Enterprises and of Johnson Development Corporation, and Charles Gifford, CEO and Chairman of BankBoston, are honorary co-chairs of the series.

Some of the private sector commitments are the following:

Pfizer announced a major expansion of its Brooklyn plant, which will create hundreds of new jobs;

Rite Aid pledged to open 40 new stores in central cities across the country in the next two years;

Pathmark will open at least four supermarkets in distressed areas in the next two years;

BankBoston announced its first direct equity investment in a minority-owned urban business;

Blimpie International will significantly expand its entrepreneurial franchise program; and

Prudential Insurance is committing $40 million in new investment to distressed areas.

In addition, the Vice President, Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin and Small Business Administrator Aida Alvarez announced a new Administration initiative, Business LINC -- which stands for Learning, Initiative, Networking, and Collaboration -- to coordinate federal efforts to encourage large businesses to work with small businesses in distressed areas.

The Vice President, who will oversee Business LINC, directed Rubin and Alvarez to coordinate this effort. Rubin and Alvarez will sponsor a series of four regional meetings to focus attention on large businesses partnering with small businesses and will report to the Vice President on their progress.

The Vice President also announced that the agendas for the next two White House roundtable meetings.

The second meeting, scheduled for fall 1998, will showcase several large and small business leaders participating in Business LINC. Rubin and Alvarez will report to the Vice President at this meeting on the progress of the initiative.

The third White House roundtable, scheduled for early 1999, will focus on the role that community-based organizations and nonprofits can play in partnership with business and government to stimulate economic development in inner cities and distressed communities. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Andrew Cuomo will highlight new commitments from outside groups and new Administrations proposals, such as the $400 million Community Empowerment Fund, in the President's 1999 budget.

As chair of the President's Community Empowerment Board, the Vice President oversees the Administration's efforts to provide greater opportunity in our distressed urban and rural areas.