Today, Deputy U.S. Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank delivered the keynote address at the Operation HOPE 20th Anniversary Bus Tour ceremony in Los Angeles, California. She emphasized the importance of economic development and opportunity in the years following the Rodney King riots.
In 1999, the U.S. Department of Commerce awarded Operation Hope $200,000 to help bring more economic opportunities to a hard-hit area of Los Angeles. Since then, Operation HOPE has helped bring more investments, more economic opportunity, and more empowerment into underserved communities in Los Angeles as well as other cities around the U.S.
Deputy Secretary Blank also highlighted how the Recovery Act that President Obama signed in 2009 allowed the Commerce Department to provide $7.5 million dollars to the City of Los Angeles to install high-speed broadband connections and to place thousands of new computers at about 150 sites. As a result, about 130,000 people are using those computers every week–from students doing homework to unemployed workers applying for job.
She also emphasized the importance of access to education and mentoring for young people throughout the U.S. In particular, she called for preventing interest rates on student loans from doubling on over seven million students on July 1.
As an economist, the Deputy Secretary’s past work had focused on how America can address economic inequalities such as promoting more education, opportunities and jobs in underserved communities.