CALLING attention to America's distressed inner cities and rural towns, Vice President Al Gore Jr. on Dec. 6 outlined a new economic-aid strategy for these communities.
The plan - supported by a $3.5 billion legislative package passed by Congress - includes tax incentives and loans to encourage business and job growth in nine ``empowerment zones'' and 95 ``enterprise communities.''
``We want to call upon all Americans to come together from the bottom up in a new compact to help poor communities in urban and rural America join in contributing to the growth of regional economies,'' Mr. Gore said at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government.
Cities that wish to participate must devise plans to attract state, local, and private-sector investment. President Clinton and Mr. Gore will announce the application process in January.
Since every city is different, the government will be flexible, Gore said. ``Government can listen. Government can respond to each local community's own plan to break [its] own vicious cycle.''
Specifically, the program will provide: assistance in creating community-based financial institutions, loans to small and minority businesses, and infrastructure investments in rural and native American communities.
Other plans include government-sponsored partnerships with private foundations and improvements to city schools.