Arroyo’s ‘Invest in Boston’ ordinance gains council approval

Mayoral candidate Felix Arroyo is celebrating a victory today after the City Council unanimously passed his “Invest in Boston” ordinance, which he said will encourage community lending and spur the local economy.

Arroyo, a councilor-at-large, has been pressing the initiative on the campaign trail, saying that if elected mayor he would require banks with city money to show proof that they are investing in the neighborhoods. Arroyo has made closing the education achievement gap, increasing opportunities for the underserved, and creating pathways out of poverty central issues in his campaign.

He has said that his “Invest in Boston” legislation would ensure that all neighborhoods share in the city’s prosperity. He said that the city has $1 billion deposited in banks and that his legislation would target those banks.

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The ordinance, which passed 13-0, requires that city money can be invested in Boston to help fund small businesses, foreclosure prevention programs, private ventures, home ownership opportunities, and other programs and investments that foster economic growth. The ordinance would also create a 10-member commission, including six appointed by the mayor, one named by the City Council, and one each representing the neighborhood, nonprofits and the business community. The commission’s goal would include evaluating financial institutions that seek banking contracts with the city.

The ordinance will be sent this week to Mayor Thomas M. Menino, who must sign it.

“We know Boston is a prosperous city, but we know that prosperity does not reach every neighborhood,’’ Arroyo said in a statement. “ ‘Invest in Boston’ helps us bridge that divide and create real pathways out of poverty and into the middle class for all Bostonians.’’

Arroyo has held town hall meetings in Jamaica Plain, Hyde Park, and Brighton and a City Council hearing this month to get input from community residents.

“We want our small businesses to grow and flourish. We want to encourage home ownership and create jobs for Bostonians,” said Arroyo in a statement. “Invest in Boston helps accomplish that and I am proud that we passed it today.