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Monday, December 27, 2004
Star's program spurs economic development
Associated Press


GREEN BAY, Wis. -- In the seven years since Reggie White and his wife helped found Urban Hope, the program has assisted in starting 400 businesses.

"A lot of people know Reggie as a football player and a legend, but what he has returned to the community and the seeds that he's planted here was one of the best models in America for economic development," said Mark Burwell, Urban Hope's executive director.

White, a former defensive end and one of the NFL's greatest players, died Sunday in North Carolina at 43. Burwell said he spoke with White on the phone for about an hour three days ago, and Urban Hope was looking forward to having him as a keynote speaker in about a month.

Urban Hope has produced more than 800 graduates and led to the creation of 1,100 jobs, Burwell said. In recent years, White and his wife, Sara, distanced themselves from the program's day-to-day operations.

White arrived in Green Bay in 1993 and helped lead the Packers to two Super Bowl appearances. Former Green Bay Mayor Paul Jadin, who left office in 2003 and became Green Bay Area Chamber of Commerce president, developed a close relationship with White through Urban Hope.

"Reggie was one of those people who I think recognized that he needed to justify his blessings in life by becoming a vehicle to bring blessings to others," Jadin said.

Angela Cervantes graduated from Urban Hope in 1998 and has since started Angelina Restaurant in Green Bay. She recalled some advice from White.

"He was always preaching the important thing when you open a business is to be honest with customers and yourself, otherwise you're not going to make it."

The Urban Hope Entrepreneur Center can be found online at http://www.urbanhopegb.org/main.htm.





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