Mr. KERRY. Mr. President, today I am joining colleagues on both sides of the aisle to introduce the American Community Renewal and New Markets Empowerment Act. Demonstrating that Congress can constructively work together and find common ground, we--Senators Lieberman, Torricelli, Kohl, Santorum, Abraham, and Hutchison--unveiled a plan that creates economic incentives to help close America's wealth gap. Among many important initiatives, our plan includes my new markets legislation that I introduced last September, S. 1594, the Community Development and Venture Capital Act, and full funding for Round II of Empowerment Zones.

This plan builds on the President's and Speaker's agreement by securing full, mandatory funding for Massachusetts’s Empowerment Zone. So far, the money has dribbled in--only $6.6 million of the $100 million authorized over ten years--and made it impossible for the city to implement a plan for economic self-sufficiency. Some 80 public and private entities, from universities to technology companies to banks to local government, showed incredible community spirit and committed to matching the EZ money, eight to one. Let me say it another way--these groups agreed to match the $100 million in Federal Empowerment Zone money with $800 million. Yet, regrettably, in spite of this incredible alliance, the city of Boston has not been able to tap into that leveraged money and implement the strategic plan because Congress hasn't held its part of the bargain. I am extremely pleased that we were able to work together and find a way to provide full, steady funding to these zones. That money means education, daycare, transportation and basic health care in areas--in Massachusetts that includes 57,000 residents who live in Roxbury, Dorchester and Mattipan--where almost 50 percent of the children are living in poverty and nearly half the residents over 25 don't even have a high school diploma.

Mr. President, this bill also includes an initiative that I introduced last year called the Community Development and Venture Capital Act. Its purpose is to stimulate economic development through public-private partnerships that invest venture capital in smaller businesses that are located in impoverished rural and urban areas, known as new markets, or that employ low-income people. We call these areas new markets because of the overlooked business opportunities. According to Michael Porter, a respected professor at Harvard and business analyst who has written extensively on competitiveness, "... inner cities are the largest underserved market in America, with many tens of billions of dollars of unmet consumer and business demand."

Both innovative and fiscally sound, my new markets initiative is financially structured similar to Small Business Administration (SBA's ), successful Small Business Investment Company (SBIC), program, and incorporates a technical assistance component similar to that successfully used in SBA's microloan program. However, unlike the SBIC program which focuses solely on small businesses with high-growth potential and claims successes such as Staples and Calaway Golf, the New Markets Venture Capital program will focus on smaller businesses that show promise of financial and social returns, such as jobs--what we call a ``double bottomline.''

To get at the complex and deep-rooted economic problems in new market areas, my initiative has three parts: a venture capital program to funnel investment money into our poorest communities, a program to expand the number of venture capital firms that are devoted to investing in such communities, and a mentoring program to link established, successful businesses with businesses and entrepreneurs in stagnant or deteriorating communities in order to facilitate the learning curve.

What I'm trying to do as Ranking Member of the Small Business Committee, and have been working with the SBA to achieve, is expand investment in our neediest communities by building on the economic activity created by loans. I think one of the most effective ways to do that is to spur venture capital investment in our neediest communities.

But, Mr. President, this bill even goes further than funding empowerment zones and establishing incentives to attract venture capital into distressed communities. It enhances education opportunities, creates individual development accounts to help low-income families save and invest in their future, increases affordable housing, improves access to technology in our classrooms and creates incentives to help communities remediate brownfields.

Before closing, I want to thank my colleauges for working so hard on this compromise and for their admirable willingness to put aside our differences for a larger purpose.