WASHINGTON D.C. (NEXSTAR) — How do you keep rural America in business if residents can’t find a job?
Lawmakers from both parties believe creating rural jobs is important enough for them to work together on the Rural Jobs Act.
Since 2000, this tax credit project has spurred more than $40 billion in private investment and created more than a million jobs, but less than one in four of those jobs have been created in rural communities.
This bill would change that.
“Rural America needs a jolt of infusion of cash,” said U.S. Rep. Terri Sewell, a Democrat from Alabama.
Many small towns in Alabama Congresswoman Terri Sewell’s district are struggling to survive. But some have found a way to breathe new life into their community.
“Places like Aliceville where we saw a brick plant convert into a wood pellet facility and provide 200 jobs,” said Rep. Sewell.
The New Market Tax Credit already encourages investment in low-income communities. Sewell introduced a bill that adds $500 million to encourage companies to also invest in rural areas.
“It’s a tool that’s shown to work in my district. I wanted to promote that opportunity not just in my district but in all persistent-poverty areas across America,” said Rep. Sewell.
The legislation would establish Rural Job Zones in almost every congressional district across the country.
Democrats and Republicans support this not only to create new jobs but also to fill current jobs with young talent.
“It is difficult to keep our best-educated young people in the small towns, in the rural communities so we’re losing population and we’re losing economic development,” said U.S. Roger Wicker of Mississippi.
Wicker says the bill would encourage high school and college-educated Americans to stay home.
“You may want to go to the big city, but there ought to be opportunities in the small towns and part of that has to be connectivity.”
That connectivity will require expanding the reach of broadband internet… an issue that Congress is also working on.
The bill couldn’t get off the ground during the last Congress, but lawmakers are more hopeful this time around.