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Congressman Denny Heck and Congresswoman Kristi Noem Introduce Bill to Boost Investment in Indian Country

Statement

In order to incentivize financial investment in Indian Country and other underserved communities, Congressman Denny Heck (D-WA) and Congresswoman Kristi Noem (R-SD) have introduced new legislation to improve the New Markets Tax Credit (NMTC) program. If passed, this bill would require the Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI) Fund to take steps to encourage investment in tribal communities, and help underserved communities understand the potential of a New Markets Tax Credit by conducting outreach and training in those communities.

"This bill addresses an ongoing underinvestment in Indian Country that is hindering their economic potential," Heck said. "This will greatly help Washington tribes, where the lack of financial support for necessary upgrades has stalled our local economies. We can open more doors and spur investment by improving the New Market Tax Credit program."

"I firmly believe in the potential of the American workforce, but it's still critically important to encourage private investment in places like South Dakota's Indian Country where there are limited opportunities for many," said Noem. "H.R.6213 is designed to increase investments in Indian Country, helping more people achieve upward mobility and the financial independence that can come with it."

"Better access to the New Market Tax Credit program would allow tribes to improve infrastructure, tribal housing and government buildings across Indian Country," Chehalis Tribe Chairman Don Secena said. "This would make a huge impact in serving the needs of tribal communities and bring relief to local county services that are at the brink of being over utilized."

"We all know how important it is to direct funds to rural and underserved communities, but there are often significant hurdles to overcome in order to do so," said Lin Van Hofwegen, Managing Director of Dakotas America, a community development entity (CDE) that has attracted investment for several projects in Indian Country communities. "We appreciate the priority the Community Development Financial Institutions Fund (CDFI Fund) places on generating economic growth and opportunity in our nation's most distressed communities and we thank Rep. Noem for her leadership on H.R.6213. We share her optimism that this legislation will continue to break down some of the barriers that exist and make it easier to open new doors for young people in Indian Country."

H.R. 6213 would require the CDFI Fund to provide proactive outreach training to underserved communities. It would also codify an incentive currently in the application to receive an NMTC allocation to applicants that commit to making investments in Indian Country. Additionally, the bill would ensure that the Fund allocates credits to at least one Community Development Entity (CDE) whose primary mission is to fund projects within or that benefit Indian Country.

Cosponsors include Representatives Tom Cole (R-OK), Betty McCollum (D-MN), Gwen Moore (D-FL), Derek Kilmer (D-WA) and Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-WA). Cole and McCollum are co-chairs of the Congressional Native American Caucus.

Background

Since its launch in 1994, the CDFI Fund, a division of the U.S. Treasury Department, has provided a flexible way to attract investment in underserved communities across the nation. Through the NMTC program, the CDFI Fund draws private investment to low-income communities with struggling economies by offering tax credits to those who invest in Community Development Entities (CDEs). CDEs are vehicles through which private capital flows from an investor to a business in a low income community. CDEs identify high needs and links investors with businesses in the underserved communities.

Each year, the CDFI Fund allocates billions of dollars to communities through the use of NMTCs to encourage private investment across the nation. It is estimated that for every $1 invested by the NMTC program, $8 of private investment is generated.

Indian Country has been an area of untapped potential for CDFI funds. Despite the high unemployment and low economic growth, most years, few--if any--NMTCs are utilized in Indian Country. Streamlining NMTCs to Indian Country will draw on this potential by linking investors with projects in these underserved Indian communities.


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