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Rebuilding and reinvesting in our communities

ANDREW CUOMO | 4/12/2011, 5:31 p.m.

This election is about who we are as a people, who we are as a state, what we believe in and what direction we are headed.

Since the start of the recession more than two years ago, we have felt the effects of joblessness and economic uncertainty. As the economy has slowed, unemployment and underemployment have dramatically risen.

Government was supposed to be there to help us weather the storm, serving as a vehicle for job creation and innovation. Instead, it has been marred by dysfunction and crippled by scandal. Our government has let us down.

I am running for governor of this great state because I believe I can make a difference. There was a time when our government was a symbol of integrity and a source of pride; a time when our state led the nation in creating jobs and new industries; a time when we dreamed big and, most importantly, believed in ourselves.

Over the past several months, I have traveled this state, outlining my plans to clean up Albany, get our fiscal house in order and once again make New York the jobs capital of the nation.

Today, I am announcing my urban agenda for New York because without strong and vibrant urban communities, we won't achieve our goal of providing opportunities for all New Yorkers. My agenda recognizes our need to address chronic problems of underserved communities and people.

We must combat poverty through education and workforce training. We have to improve access to quality health care, make our streets safer and ensure that minority- and women-owned business enterprises (MWBEs) have a fair chance to compete.

What most people need more than anything else is a good job. Our commitment to provide training for good jobs begins with education and literacy. Our young people, in particular, need mentoring and work readiness programs, along with the expanded learning opportunities of after-school programs.

All of our workforce development programs should be integrated with our economic development efforts so that we train people for jobs that actually exist. One of the most promising new industries is clean energy because it offers jobs for a wide range of education and skills. We will create an expanded Green Jobs Corps with job training and outreach efforts that are focused on low-income and minority communities.

We must strengthen our commitment to giving MWBEs a fair chance to compete. My agenda builds on the recently enacted MWBE reforms so that New York will be a national leader in this area.

We have to expand affordable housing and community development initiatives. Our need for affordable housing is great as ever, but our resources have been strained by the bursting of the housing bubble. We must work with our representatives in Congress to revitalize the federal Low-Income Housing Tax Credit Program and innovatively use the state's own programs, like the Mortgage Insurance Fund, to preserve and build on the affordable homes we do have.

At the same time, we need to assist the communities reeling from the impact of foreclosures. There are programs to do just that and I will make sure we work to take full advantage of them, like the federal government's First Look program, under which banks must provide state and local governments the first opportunity to purchase foreclosed properties.