Wilson, Rahall lobby for Enterprise Zones

Published 11:45 am Friday, December 26, 2008

In an effort to reinvigorate the economy of the Tri-State Area, U.S. Reps. Nick J. Rahall, D-WVa., and Charlie Wilson, D-Ohio, called upon House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Rangel and Ranking Member Camp urging them to consider including legislation to strengthen Empower-ment Zones in the economic stimulus package planned for early next year.

Hunting-ton, W.Va., and Ironton teamed up to create the Huntington-Ironton Empowerment Zone during the President Clinton Administration.

“Empowerment Zones are trustworthy vehicles, proven to help address poverty and unemployment while promoting economic opportunity in historically challenged areas,” said Rahall. “I am optimistic that the Obama Administration will continue the important work on the Huntington-Ironton Empowerment Zone started by the Clinton Administration—work which has been badly neglected for the past eight years.”

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During the 110th Congress, Congressman Rahall co-sponsored HR 2578, the Empowerment Zone and Renewal Community Enhancement Act, to expand incentives for economic activity and job creation in existing empowerment zones, renewal communities, and enterprise communities.

Empowerment Zones’ tax incentives have a demonstrated impact on job creation and retention. According to the IRS, from 2004 through 2006, total Empowerment Zone and RC-influenced jobs jumped almost 300 percent from 83,721 to 240,419. At that rate of growth, more than 690,000 jobs could be directly or indirectly related to these programs in 2008.

The Huntington-Ironton Empowerment Zone, one of 15 Federal Urban Empowerment Zones, works to promote economic growth and revitalization by providing tools for new job creation; creating new business and industrial sites; workforce training; and improving area infrastructure.

Ohio Congressman Charlie Wilson joined Rahall in support of the Empowerment Zone legislation.