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Mr. HILL. Mr. Speaker, I certainly thank the chairman of the Financial Services Committee, and I thank the ranking member in the 118th Congress, Ms. Waters, for her work on this bipartisan bill, H.R. 298, Expanding Access to Capital for Rural Job Creators Act, sponsored by Alex Mooney, our Member from West Virginia, certainly a very rural place, mountainous, tough to get around, a lot like Arkansas.
Small businesses, as the chairman said, are the backbone of the economy in Arkansas, as they are across the country. Almost 50 percent of jobs in this Nation are with traditional small businesses. Yet, they face obstacles in getting the capital they need to grow and create jobs under the best of circumstances, in Los Angeles or in Charlotte, the financial capital of the east. These greater challenges are really tough when you get out in the country. In Arkansas, almost all but two counties in our State are deeply rural.
I was a bank president in a town of 100 people, in a county of 7,000. When you talk about capital needs, that was certainly the case. That is why I can support this wholly bipartisan legislation that would direct the Securities and Exchange Commission's Office of the Advocate for Small Business Capital Formation to study the problems faced by those small businesses, entrepreneurs, owners, and family businesses, that want to access capital to grow.
This bill passed this House last July with bipartisan support, and so it should do it again today. It sends a message that Congress is fighting to help our small businesses out in rural areas. It is critical. We want them to thrive.
Sadly, this Securities and Exchange Commission and its chairman, Gary Gensler, don't have this as a priority, Mr. Speaker. Their priority is not helping capital formation or helping small businesses thrive. In fact, they are trying to choke it off with their regulatory burden.
I am glad to see that Congress is weighing in to say this is important. Our young people in rural communities are also facing an additional crisis, which is, how do we create opportunities for high school students in rural counties that can't afford a 4-year college degree or don't want to saddle themselves with debt, and that means creating a path to pursue a skilled trade--something that is in desperate need in all of our counties, urban and rural.
Workforce education must go hand in hand with helping small capitals get the capital to grow. Entrepreneurs have to have the investment, but they have also got to have a skilled workforce to help them grow their company and expand for other people.
I am fully in support of this bill because I think it speaks to the heart of the vast majority of our country, which are small companies working in rural areas.
I agree with the ranking member when she says that they need investment in healthcare and other things in rural areas, and that is why in my State there are 172 community health centers, Federal community health centers, spread across our entire State. We have a really capable, good local hospital system throughout our rural counties.
We are blessed by that. We are blessed by good CTE schools, classic trade workforce schools, but we could use more. Of course, we have got to have capital to grow, and it can't just come from the banking sector.
That is why I support so fully our chair's emphasis on crowdsourcing funding for small businesses. Think how much more straightforward that is in a rural area to try to do something good by bringing together people from all over, all works of life to help somebody build a business.
Mr. Speaker, I thank the chair for his leadership. I thank the ranking member.
Mr. Speaker, I urge all our colleagues to support this bill.
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