01/01/2009 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Obama: Help Wanted for Stimulus in Urban Areas

President-elect Barack Obama's economic stimulus plan focused on creating 2.5 million jobs and rescuing "Main Street," not just Wall Street, is a welcome departure from the top-down economic theories we have heard up until now.

But though Obama's plan feels right on the surface, for me it raises two questions: "Which Main Streets?" and "Who gets those jobs?"

Main Street is in the eye of the beholder. On Chicago's South Side, Main Street runs through neighborhoods with double-digit unemployment along the Dan Ryan Expressway, a perfect example of a road reconstruction project that cut through the black community but did not translate into significant economic opportunities for area residents and minority contractors.

Obama's plan could potentially be a real game changer for urban America. It could go beyond the economic boom of the Clinton years and finally address the high jobless rate and income gaps that persist even in good times for far too many Americans.

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