The Upper Manhattan Empowerment Zone is one of nine empowerment zones established by the Clinton Administration in 1994 to revitalize distressed communities by using public funds and tax incentives as catalysts for private investment. Our initial 10-year designation was accompanied by a federal grant of $100 million. Unique in the nation, the governor of New YorkState and the mayor of the City of New York each matched the federal funding commitment, creating a total investment pool of $300 million. Of that pool, $50 million was designated for the Bronx Overall Economic Development Corporation, leaving $250 million for investment in Upper Manhattan.
The Empowerment Zone began operations on February 14, 1995, and made its first round of grants and loans in October 1996. In the years since, the Upper Manhattan Empowerment Zone has invested over $225 million in the neighborhoods north of 96th Street, catalyzing one of the most impressive reinvestment initiatives in urban America and revitalizing Harlem, East Harlem, Washington Heights and Inwood. UMEZ has leveraged an additional $1 billion in investments and allocated $57 million in bonds.
Legislation enacted in 2009 extended the Empowerment Zone’s operations through December 2011. This provides a longer window of opportunity to create the maximum benefits for residents of Upper Manhattan. As of March 2005, the Empowerment Zone had available for investment approximately $85 million of direct capital and $212 million of tax-exempt empowerment zone facility bonds.
This historic federal initiative was proudly brought into existence through legislation sponsored by Congressman Charles B. Rangel, signed into law by former President Clinton and supported by the City and State of New York. The Empowerment Zone’s legacy will live on in the substantial investment that it has made in projects across Upper Manhattan.