Op Ed: Sen. Shelley Moore Capito: CORE Act targets underserved communities (Daily Mail)

It’s no secret that West Virginia is undergoing an economic transition.

Our coal communities have lost thousands of jobs due to increased competition and over regulation.

Yet, coal is and must remain a part of our energy mix to meet the demands of powering the nation. While we continue to fight for critical energy jobs, we must also look for opportunities to diversify and grow the state’s economy.

Doing so will get more West Virginians back to work, attract talented new professionals and businesses to the state and make us more competitive — all leading to a brighter and more secure future for West Virginians.

We all know the transition won’t be easy, but it’s necessary to ensure that West Virginia and our workforce can continue to drive economic growth in Appalachia and across the country.

Over the past two years, I have teamed up with economic development experts to conduct a thorough analysis of our state’s economy, including how West Virginia is utilizing federal incentives for economic and community development.

I’ve met with leaders in business, local government and academia. I’ve heard directly from employees at companies of all sizes, toured numerous businesses from budding startups to established manufacturing facilities, and surveyed neighboring states.

The New Markets Tax Credit program, which is operated through the U.S. Department of Treasury, began in 2000 to provide an incentive for investment in projects in low-income communities.

These tax credits support investments in projects such as mixed-use redevelopment projects, health care facilities, new grocery stores in food deserts, new manufacturing facilities and direct investments in businesses. Private investors receive a significant tax credit for investing in projects in struggling communities.

Since 2000, more than $40 billion has been invested across the nation, but underserved states like West Virginia have not seized the full potential of this program. Only 17 projects, equal to just $97 million, have been invested in our state since 2000, far less than neighboring states.

Kentucky has received more than $730 million in new market tax credit investment, Ohio has received more than $1.9 billion and Pennsylvania has received nearly $1.4 billion.

The disparity between West Virginia and our neighbors is quite stark. Yet, many of these rural communities have shared the devastation that’s resulted from a major downturn in the coal industry.

To promote new investment and boost economic growth in economically distressed regions of the country, I’ve introduced legislation that will leverage the power of this program by dedicating a portion of the credit to struggling communities affected by coal job losses.

Over the next three years, $10.5 billion in new market tax credits will be invested across the nation. The Creating Opportunities for Rural Economies or CORE Act sets aside 5 percent annually for investments in states like West Virginia that are considered under served.

Coal communities have powered U.S. economic growth for generations, providing the nation with affordable, reliable energy. But as the nation has transitioned to an all-of-the-above energy policy, much of rural America has been left behind and suffered major job loss.

By maximizing the power of available tax credits and spurring new public and private investment, the CORE Act presents a tremendous opportunity for struggling coal communities to receive critical funding that will create new jobs and strengthen local economies.

Investors are looking for projects in West Virginia, and they are ready to work with us. The CORE Act will prompt much-needed economic development and diversify our economy, creating a stronger foundation for West Virginians.

Republican Shelley Moore Capito represents West Virginia in the U.S. Senate.

By:  U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va)
Source: Daily Mail Opinion Page of the Charleston Gazette-Mail