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'RENEWAL COMMUNITY' STATUS IS PURSUED

The city is applying to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to become part of the "Renewal Community" program.

Sally Martinez, executive director of the Greater Jamestown Empire Zone, said the program is an initiative to stimulate economic development in distressed communities. City development officials have been working for the past several days to finish applying for the designation.

The application was approved during Monday night's special meeting of the City Council. Council President Michael Mistretta noted that the designation would apply to businesses within the city's Empire Zone, providing federal tax credits for businesses and organizations to assist with hiring.

Tax credits from the state are featured in the 2-square-mile Jamestown Empire Zone. Those credits are awarded to certified businesses within the zone that expand and/or add jobs.

Martinez said the state must nominate communities to take part in the initiative, which will designate 40 of the most distressed communities in the country and provide them with the tax-incentive package. She said that two census tracks, showing a "high level of poverty," have been identified in the city as eligible for the program.

In another matter, the Council finished its initial review of city departments but made no changes in the proposed budget for 2002.

Council members asked department heads to bring in their current year's spending plans to help begin deliberations. Mayor Sam Teresi presented a "starting point" budget for 2002 totaling $28.2 million.

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