Diaz-Balart on Economic Development Agencies' Proposed Budgets
Washington, DC – At a Congressional hearing today on the proposed fiscal year 2011 budgets for regional economic development commissions, Economic Development, Public Buildings and Emergency Management Subcommittee Ranking Member Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL) stressed the importance of effectively leveraging commission funding and ensuring that job creation is a priority for distressed areas of the country.
Included among these commissions are the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC), the Denali Commission, the Delta Regional Authority (DRA), the Northern Great Plains Regional Authority, the Southeast Crescent Regional Commission, the Southwest Border Regional Commission, and the Northern Border Regional Commission.
Diaz-Balart’s statement follows:
“Congress established regional commissions to focus investment in areas of distress in our nation. Unfortunately, there are many areas of our nation that have chronic unemployment, high poverty rates, and lack the infrastructure and other resources to spur private investment in their communities. These commissions were created to help spur economic development and job creation in these communities.
“The regional commissions are federal and state partnerships, focused on helping chronically distressed communities to generate sustainable economic development. The commissions have relatively small budgets and those that are represented here today are requesting level funding for fiscal year 2011.
“Generally, these commissions have effectively leveraged tax dollars with private investment, spurring job growth. For example, in a 2007 report on ARC infrastructure and public works projects, a sampling of just a quarter of ARC’s projects revealed that more than 17,000 new jobs were created. These projects expanded the annual personal income by $1.3 billion. Of the 78 projects reviewed in the report, $1.7 billion of private investment was leveraged at a ratio of $75 to $1 of ARC investment.
“Since it was created in 2000, the DRA has invested $75 million in 510 projects, attracting $1.5 billion in private investment. And, the DRA, as highlighted in a hearing earlier this year, uses participation agreements for its grants, requiring grantees to meet certain job creation goals. If those goals are not met, the grantee must refund a pro rata share of the grant monies.
“These are just a couple of examples of how tax dollars can be leveraged to spur private investment and ensure the jobs created will last. As I have mentioned in previous hearings, the Recovery Act should have included provisions that ensured similar returns on investment to the taxpayer. As we review the budgets and priorities of these commissions, I believe it is very important that we ensure funding is leveraged effectively and job creation remains a priority for these distressed areas.”