WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) joined Sens. Roger Wicker (R-MS), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), and Ben Cardin (D-MD) in introducing legislation to encourage greater investment in rural and underserved areas. The Rural Jobs Act would build on the proven success of the New Markets Tax Credit (NTMC) by increasing the flow of private investment to rural areas.

“During my time as Governor and in the Senate, I’ve supported initiatives to help create jobs and boost economic opportunity for all Virginians,” said Sen. Warner.“There’s a lot happening in parts of Southwest and Southside Virginia, but we still have more work to do to ensure that no part of Virginia is left behind. That’s why I’m proud to introduce this legislation to set aside additional tax credits for rural and underserved regions.”

The New Markets Tax Credit (NTMC) program currently provides a modest tax incentive to private investors to invest in low-income communities. Since the creation of the NMTC, a total of 70 businesses and economic revitalization projects in Virginia have already received financing, with a total of $735.9 million in NMTC allocations going towards $1.4 billion in project investments. Between 2003 and 2015, the program created 14,559 jobs across the Commonwealth.

The Rural Jobs Act would help close the job creation gap by designating $500 million in NMTC investments for “Rural Job Zones” – low-income communities that have a population smaller than 50,000 inhabitants and are not adjacent to an urban area. Under this new definition, Rural Job Zones would be established in 342 out of the 435 congressional districts across the country. The bill would also prioritize 25 percent of the new allocation to persistent poverty counties and high migration rural counties.

Under this legislation, Virginia would have more qualified census tracts than almost any other state, providing greater investment opportunity to support and grow businesses and create jobs in communities across the Commonwealth. The bill would also require that at least 25 percent of this new investment activity be targeted to persistent poverty counties and high-migration counties. There are approximately 400 persistent poverty counties in the United States, 85 percent of which are located in non-metro or rural areas.

Companion legislation has also been introduced in the House of Representatives by Reps. Terri Sewell (D-AL) and Jason Smith (R-MO).