WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) along with Sens. Roger Wicker (R-MS), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Shelley Capito (R-WV), Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), John Boozman (R-AR), John Hoeven (R-ND), and Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS) today reintroduced legislation to encourage greater private investment in rural and underserved areas, which have been particularly hard-hit by the COVID-19 health and economic crisis. Seeking to build on the proven success of the New Markets Tax Credit (NTMC) program, the bipartisan Rural Jobs Act would increase the flow of capital to rural areas and will serve as an important tool in U.S. economic recovery efforts. Companion legislation has also been introduced in the House of Representatives by Reps. Terri Sewell (D-AL) and Jason Smith (R-MO).
“The New Market Tax Credit program has a proven track record of reviving local economies and creating needed jobs in communities around the country. Unfortunately, less than one in four jobs created by this program have been in rural communities,” said Sen. Warner. “This legislation will bridge this job creation gap by earmarking additional tax credits specifically for rural and underserved regions, which are suffering tremendously due to the health and economic impacts of the COVID-19 crisis.”
The NMTC program currently provides a modest tax incentive to private investors to invest in low-income communities. The Rural Jobs Act would build on the success of this program by designating, for two years, $500 million in NMTC investments for “Rural Job Zones” – low-income communities that have a population smaller than 50,000 inhabitants and are not adjacent to an urban area. Under this new definition, Rural Job Zones would be established in in 342 out of the 435 congressional districts across the country, including communities in the following Virginia localities: Accomack, Albemarle, Alleghany, Appomattox, Augusta, Bath, Bedford, Bland, Botetourt, Brunswick, Buchanan, Buckingham, Buena Vista, Campbell, Caroline, Carroll, Charlotte, Covington, Culpeper, Cumberland, Danville, Dickenson, Dinwiddie, Emporia, Essex, Fauquier, Floyd, Franklin, Frederick, Galax, Giles, Gloucester, Grayson, Greene, Greensville, Halifax, Henry, Highland, Isle of Wight, King and Queen, King William, Lee, Lexington, Louisa, Lunenburg, Madison, Martinsville, Mecklenburg, Middlesex, Montgomery, Nelson, Northampton, Northumberland, Norton, Nottoway, Orange, Page, Patrick, Pittsylvania, Prince Edward, Pulaski, Rappahannock, Richmond, Rockbridge, Rockingham, Russell, Scott, Shenandoah, Smyth, Southampton, Spotsylvania, Stafford, Surry, Sussex, Tazewell, Warren, Washington, Westmoreland, Wise, and Wythe.
Since the creation of the NMTC, a total of 77 businesses and economic revitalization projects in Virginia have received financing, contributing to $1.5 billion in total project investments.
“The Rural Jobs Zones initiative will drive more resources to projects such as the OnePartner/HMG Medical Center in Duffield, Virginia. Hampton Roads Ventures used the New Markets Tax Credit to finance a new facility that expanded medical services to residents in this medically underserved area. Rural Jobs Zones will benefit from billions in private sector financing for health centers, manufacturing businesses, broadband expansions, and Main Street revitalization efforts. We applaud Senator Warner for his continued commitment to rural economic development,” said Jennifer Donohue, CEO of Hampton Roads Ventures, LLC.
“Senator Warner’s bill, the Rural Jobs Act, will create a powerful new tool for economic and community development in rural communities across Virginia and across the nation, it will lead to more quality jobs and better futures in rural America,” said Rob Goldsmith, President and CEO, People Incorporated Financial Services.
Under this legislation, Virginia would have more qualified census tracts than almost any other state, providing greater investment opportunity to support and grow businesses and create jobs in communities across the Commonwealth. The bill would also require that at least 25 percent of this new investment activity be targeted to persistent poverty counties and high-migration counties. There are approximately 400 persistent poverty counties in the United States, 85 percent of which are located in non-metro or rural areas.
Bill text is available here. A bill summary is available here.