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Congressman Jerry McNerney

Representing the 9th District of California

Rep. McNerney Pushes Legislation to Revitalize American Cities

Jun 16, 2016
Press Release

Washington – To help communities still struggling in the aftermath of the Great Recession, Congressman Jerry McNerney (CA-09) is once again pushing for Congress to pass the Revitalize Our Cities Act, introduced this week. H.R. 5498 would extend the federal Empowerment Zones program and authorize new zones for urban areas with high unemployment, poverty, and high foreclosure rates to help boost economic growth in those regions.

“The Revitalize Our Cities Act aims to strengthen communities and boost economic vitality in areas that still struggle to put people back to work. I’ve spoken with many constituents who are still having trouble either finding a good-paying job or making ends meet in areas where jobs and economic opportunities remain scarce,” said Congressman Jerry McNerney. “My legislation would provide tax incentives to hire new employees, as well as to invest in local schools to improve educational outcomes and prepare students for success beyond the classroom, among other economic investments. The Revitalize Our Cities Act takes a commonsense approach that will move distressed cities toward success, and I call on Congress to move it forward.” 

The Revitalize Our Cities Act would extend new Empowerment Zone designations for another three years, instead of letting the program expire at the end of this year. The legislation would allow for an additional 20 cities as Empowerment Zones across the country.

An area is eligible for a new Empowerment Zone designation only if the average unemployment rate and the average rate of residential and commercial foreclosures in the area are each higher than that of their respective state averages for the period beginning January 1, 2012 and ending with the date of enactment of this legislation.

Cities selected as federal Empowerment Zones would receive various tax benefits, as would school districts and local businesses, to spur investment in the area and promote economic growth.

“Resources made available through an Empowerment Zone designation will help attract new business investments that will bring back jobs and revitalize urban areas in my district, places like the San Joaquin Valley, where unemployment is still higher than California’s average. Providing new economic opportunities is essential to providing these communities with a foundation to rebuild and thrive once again,” added Rep. McNerney.

Under a federal Empowerment Zone designation, state and local governments can issue tax-exempt bonds to finance the construction of specific public buildings, such as schools. Unfortunately, some low-income communities have found it challenging to finance new schools or rehabilitate existing schools.  A federal empowerment zone designation would allow a local school district in the zone to issue Qualified Zone Academy Bonds that could be used to renovate schools, buy equipment, develop curricula, and or train teachers.

Click here to read a full description of the tax incentives available under a federal Empowerment Zone designation.

The Revitalize Our Cities Act has the support of multiple local leaders and business organizations across California’s 9th Congressional District.

“The Revitalize Our Cities Act is important legislation that will help struggling communities, like those in parts of Contra Costa County that face higher levels of unemployment and poverty. Through designation as federal Empowerment Zones, these cities would be eligible for resources and tax benefits to invest in schools, expand small businesses, and promote economic growth. As a leader in this community, I’m glad to see Congressman McNerney standing up for the people in our region… we need to do everything possible to boost investment and expand economic opportunity in the region,” said Antioch Mayor Wade Harper.

“San Joaquin County is still recovering from the last economic recession. Congressman McNerney’s Revitalize Our Cities Act could aid in that recovery by making it possible to allow Stockton and other cities in San Joaquin County to qualify for designation as an empowerment zone,” said San Joaquin County Superintendent of Schools James Mousalimas. “Tax incentives for local businesses to hire locally would help provide more jobs, which strengthens the families of children attending schools in our communities. The incentives could also create local jobs that will be waiting for our students once they complete their education. For young people still in school, the Act also provides a tax credit for businesses hiring 16- or 17-year-olds for summer jobs.”   

“The Revitalized Our Cities Act is a critical bill to jumpstart investment in the City of Stockton and San Joaquin County and thank you Rep. McNerney for introducing it again. The tax credits and incentives in this bill can assist small businesses and minority businesses in creating jobs and growing our economy. Minority businesses often face higher barriers to entry and disproportionately lack access to capital. This bill provides resources that minority businesses can benefit from. Our community’s designation as a federal empowerment zone could generate new jobs, and this is a jobs bill,” said Paulette Amous-Gross, CEO of the African American Chamber Foundation of San Joaquin. 

“The Greater Stockton Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors, our membership and community appreciate and commend Congressman McNerney for introducing this important piece of legislation for the betterment of all,” said Douglass W. Wilhoit, Jr., CEO of the Greater Stockton Chamber of Commerce.

Rep. McNerney has long fought for legislation that would revitalize local economies across California’s 9th District. Earlier this week, the Congressman sent a letter to President Obama, criticizing his administration’s decision to exclude Stockton, CA from the last and final round of Promise Zone Initiative designations.

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Rep. Jerry McNerney proudly serves the constituents of California’s 9th Congressional District that includes portions of San Joaquin, Contra Costa, and Sacramento Counties. For more information on Rep. McNerney’s work, follow him on Facebook and on Twitter @RepMcNerney.