Preston one of 32 counties eligible for Capito’s CORE Act legislation

New legislation by U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., could potentially have a big economic impact here in Preston County and in 31 other counties across the state.

According to the legislation, the Creating Opportunities for Rural Economies (CORE) Act would leverage the power of something called the New Market Tax Credits dedicating a portion of the credit to low-income communities suffering from job loss in the coal industry. Sen. Capito’s press secretary Ashley Berrang said the CORE Act would, essentially, raise awareness about the NMTC and how entities can access the program’s business development incentive program.

“West Virginia and other states facing severe job losses in the coal industry are in dire need of new economic investment,” Sen. Capito said in a press release. “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.”

According to the U.S. Department of Treasury’s Community Development Financial Institution fund website, the business development incentive has helped economically distressed communities attract private capital by giving investors a Federal tax credit. Those participating investors receive a 39 percent tax credit over a seven-year period in return for investing in distressed communities.

In more simple terms, it could be used here in Preston County to support a wide range of growth opportunities including manufacturing, food, retail, housing, health, technology, energy, education, and even childcare.

But Sen. Capito’s legislation would set aside 5 percent of the annual credit allocation for investments in 12 states that contain counties with significant coal job loss between 2012 and 2015. Along with West Virginia, the other states are Alabama, Colorado, Kentucky, Indiana, Illinois, New Mexico, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, Utah, and Virginia.

Why the set-aside? As it turns out, West Virginia has not taken full advantage of this unique and plentiful incentive. According to the program, more than $40 billion worth of New Market Tax Credits have been allocated across the nation since it started. Surprisingly, West Virginia has only utilized a mere 17 projects totaling $97 million since 2000. Compare that to $730 million for Kentucky, $1.9 billion for Ohio and $1.4 billion for nearby Pennsylvania during the same 16-year period.

So the hope of Sen. Capito’s legislation is to increase the number of projects initiated in West Virginia and other underserved states that have suffered substantial coal job loss.

Of course it might be too soon to tell is the CORE Act will even become law. Barrang said this type of legislation typically gets a lot of bipartisan support and sometimes the key language of the measure is used in similar bills. But the real question is, will our local and state economic developers take advantage of this improved opportunity? Time will certainly tell, but it’s nice to know Sen. Capito and her exceptional staff are looking at multiple ways to improve our economy, here in Kingwood and across the state.

By:  John Dahlia
Source: The Preston County News & Journal