Senator Stabenow Measure to Create Job Opportunities in America’s Hardest-Hit Cities Advances in Senate

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), a senior member of the Senate Finance Committee, today applauded the Committee's passage of an amendment that will help spur economic growth and create job opportunities in cities across the country - including Detroit and other Michigan cities - by improving the Empowerment Zone program. The amendment, based on Senator Stabenow and Senator Roy Blunt's (R-MO) Empowering Jobs Act of 2015, will make the program more effective by expanding the way businesses and local governments can take advantage of their allocations of tax-exempt bonds. Additionally, this legislation eases the requirements on the ways these bonds can be used and encourages more businesses to invest in America's hardest-hit cities.

"Today's vote is an important step in bringing economic growth to struggling cities," said Stabenow. "Empowerment Zones are already making a big difference in Detroit, but unnecessary restrictions are preventing some businesses from investing in the city. This measure will encourage growth by allowing more businesses to hire workers and invest in our cities, which will keep moving our country forward."

Empowerment Zones were established by Congress in 1994 as a way to boost economic development in particularly struggling cities through tax incentives, grants, and tax-exempt financing. The Empowerment Zone bonds encourage the construction of economic development projects like commercial and manufacturing centers. This amendment will allow the 35 percent in-zone hiring requirement for the bonds to be met by hiring 35 percent of people from distressed Census tracts within the city in which the Empowerment Zone is located.