Capito introduces bill to help struggling coalfield communities

Sen. Shelley Moore Capito planed to introduce legislation to set aside $525 million in federal tax credits for investments in coalfield communities struggling with the downturn of that industry.

The Republican's legislation, the Creating Opportunities for Rural Economies, would set aside 5 percent of the federal New Market Tax Credit for coal counties in West Virginia and 11 other states which have experienced significant job loss resulting from the industry's financial struggles. Several counties in southern West Virginia are eligible, including Raleigh, Summers, Nicholas, Greenbrier, Wyoming and Fayette.

The bill allows investors to obtain a 39 percent tax credit on their federal income tax over a seven year period if their project is mix-use development, health care facility, manufacturing or a direct business investment. 

Capito told business and economic development leaders in Charleston last week that since 2000, more than $40 billion worth of New Market Tax Credits have been allocated across the nation, but West Virginia has not seized on the full potential of the program. She estimated West Virginia benefited from only 17 projects totaling less than $100 million in investment over the last 16 years, far less than adjacent states.

"By leveraging the power of the New Markets Tax Credit Program, the CORE Act presents a tremendous opportunity for underserved communities across the country to receive critical funding for projects that will help create new job opportunities, spur business investment, revitalize communities and strengthen struggling economies," she said.

Joe Brouse with the New River Gorge Regional Development Authority said the New Market Tax Credit is an under utilized economic development tool, but CORE will help attract new investment to West Virginia. 

Brouse, who was at the round table meeting last week with Capito, said the conclusion of the gathering was businesses want to invest in West Virginia. 

The bill's future is uncertain however, as the current Congressional session ends in less than 50 days, Jan. 3. 2017. 

The other states are Alabama, Colorado, Kentucky, Indiana, Illinois, New Mexico, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, Utah and Virginia. 

By:  Daniel Tyson
Source: Beckley Register-Herald