Rep. Jim Walsh testifies on behalf of Washington Rural Jobs Act

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Rep. Jim Walsh, R-Aberdeen, appeared before the House Technology and Economic Development Committee Wednesday morning to testify on behalf of the Washington Rural Jobs Act. House Bill 1422 would help kick-start smart economic growth strategies in rural areas. The bill, jointly sponsored by Walsh and his seatmate, Rep. Brian Blake, aims to increase economic development and job growth in rural areas.

“Many small businesses get started, but then run into difficulty getting enough capital to go to the next level,” said Walsh. “Whether it is moving into a bigger facility, buying more equipment or hiring more employees, finding financing can be a problem. This bill specifically targets that stage of development.”

The Washington Rural Jobs Act proposes using a mixture of federal and state resources. Currently, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has a Rural Investment Program to help promote rural economic development. Along with these federal resources, additional state provided tax incentives would be channeled into specific rural growth financing for small businesses. A non-refundable tax credit would be given to business lenders making eligible contributions to rural economic growth. The tax credit could be applicable to business and occupation taxes, insurance premiums or retaliatory taxes.

“We need more players willing to provide funding,” continued Walsh. “These aren’t always start up loans. The financing we are talking about is more often for small companies, already up and running, looking for growth capital. This kind of loan could take a business from 4-5 employees, to 15-20. I don’t normally support tax preferences, but we need this market to open up.”

The bill has strong bi-partisan support. Public testimony took place before the House Technology and Economic Development Committee Wednesday, Feb. 1. The bill now awaits executive action by the committee.