Supporting West Virginia’s Small Businesses
In West Virginia, 98% of our businesses are small businesses, and employ over 48% of our state’s workforce. These companies are truly the backbone of the state’s local economy, and they employ half of our private-sector workforce.
Senator Capito has championed small businesses as the creators of American jobs. She understands American-made goods and services stimulate our economy and encourage further job growth throughout West Virginia. That’s why Senator Capito has always advocated for a low-tax, pro-growth economic policy to encourage small business employment and expansion. She will continue to support policies that will spur entrepreneurship, growth and American innovation.
Since Senator Capito has been in the Senate, West Virginia has experienced significant economic growth. The state is attracting new businesses, creating an environment for existing ones to expand, and West Virginia’s unemployment rates have decreased overall.
Improvement in the state can be attributed to many things, such as, the reforming of our outdated tax code and rolling back burdensome regulations, as well as other pro-growth measures. All of these—and others—have proven to be a winning combination for workers, small businesses, and economic growth, and they have encouraged an environment that’s putting West Virginia on a path to a brighter future.
Tax Reform and Opportunity Zones
Senator Capito co-sponsored the tax reform bill, which President Trump signed into law in 2017. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act includes many provisions that are good for West Virginia businesses, communities, and families. One of these measures known as, Opportunity Zones, will help spur growth in economically distressed areas. Senator Capito was an early supporter of this measure and believes it can be a game change in communities throughout the state.
Under the provision, investors can defer capital gains taxes by investing in “Opportunity Funds.” These funds in turn must invest in distressed census tracts that are designated by governors in each state as “Opportunity Zones.” These investments will provide capital to help grow new businesses and create jobs in the parts of our country that need them the most. Thirty West Virginia counties have one or more Opportunity Zones. These communities are primed for investment from local, regional, and national investors seeking to invest in economic revitalization projects. Opportunity Zones are also prioritized for over one hundred federal grant and loan programs ranging from funding for small businesses and entrepreneurs to community development to the continued recovery from the opioid epidemic.
Driving Funding to West Virginia to Support Economic Growth
As West Virginia looks to grow economically, Senator Capito believes a key partner will continue to be the Economic Development Administration (EDA). This federal agency makes targeted investments in local communities and partners with leaders on the ground. Before Senator Capito was elected to the United States Senate, the EDA did not play an active role in West Virginia. Before Senator Capito came to the Senate, in 2013 and 2014, the state received a total of $200,000 from EDA outside of normal planning grants. This funding was also only used for technical assistance.
After only two months into the job as U.S. Senator, Senator Capito called a meeting with the then-head of EDA to discuss investments in West Virginia, and encourage them to take a hard look at increasing its presence in the state.
Since Senator Capito’s meeting in 2015, EDA has begun prioritizing West Virginia investments and has hired a representative solely focused on West Virginia. Since this change, the state has seen the development of a pipeline of projects that have and will continue to lead to job retention and creation across West Virginia. Since 2015, EDA has invested millions in West Virginia. This is over a 400 percent increase in funding since our offices collaborated. These investments will impact nearly every county in the state, and they will create over thousands of jobs, while retaining many more. The investments have funded infrastructure improvements, workforce training programs, manufacturing programs, manufacturing expansions, and efforts that support entrepreneurs.
Another partnership that has led to significant funding to benefit economic development is the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC). Senator Capito has worked closely with the ARC to direct funding to West Virginia. Both the ARC and EDA fall under the jurisdiction of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, which Senator Capito serves as Ranking Member.
As part of her Capito Connect plan, Senator Capito will ensure that our small businesses have the necessary tools to succeed and expand, including access to high-speed broadband. Broadband is critical to develop new businesses and retain prosperous small businesses that have been built in West Virginia. Click here for more details on Senator Capito’s efforts to improve connectivity across the state.