Burchett hosts roundtable at Kerns Bakery, announces new economic policy initiative

March 31, 2021
Press Release

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (March 31, 2021) – Today, U.S. Representative Tim Burchett officially announced his new economic policy initiative focused on access to capital, government efficiency, and criminal justice reform.

“I’m officially announcing my new economic policy initiative—a so-called “moonshot” that will help set priorities on the federal level,” Rep. Burchett said during a media event this morning. “The goal is to spur investment and revitalization in under-served and often forgotten areas of urban and rural America.”

The announcement came following an economic roundtable hosted by Rep. Burchett at the Kerns Bakery Opportunity Zone in South Knoxville. The event was attended by East Tennessee elected officials and local entrepreneurs.

Rep. Burchett’s full remarks from this morning’s media event are available in full below.

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[Begin Rep. Burchett remarks]

Thank you all for coming today.

I’ve always been someone who wants to get government out of the way of job creators and folks who are trying to help grow our economy.

But I also know there are tools government can use to spur economic growth.

Today, I’m officially announcing my new economic policy initiative— a so-called “moonshot” that will help set priorities on the federal level.

The goal is to spur investment and revitalization in under-served and often forgotten areas of urban and rural America.

This is not a democrat or republican issue. I know we can find bipartisan ways to encourage private investment in distressed communities, prioritize solutions that work, and find ways to give folks a second chance when they need one.

We all know Tennessee is a great state to do business and the people here are our best asset.

And by leveraging federal, state and local business incentives, I’m confident we’ll see a strong post-pandemic recovery.

As a former mayor, I know the importance of private investments and job creation.

Thanks to natural growth and good stewardship of taxpayer dollars, we built new schools, senior centers, launched infrastructure projects, and paid down debt—all without raising taxes.

As your Congressman, I want to incorporate this experience by working to expand economic opportunity and workforce development by focusing on three main areas: Access to Capital, Government Efficiency, and Criminal Justice Reform.

I’m working on several bills related to these areas, and I’ll quickly highlight them.

 

I joined Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, a Democrat out of New York, in introducing the Prison to Proprietorship for the Formerly Incarcerated Act last Congress.

This bipartisan legislation provides business counseling and training to recently released, non-violent prisoners, giving individuals who have paid their debt to society a second chance to achieve economic and financial success through entrepreneurship.

This bill passed the House last Congress, and we are updating it and plan to reintroduce it soon.

The bottom line is: if we don’t give the folks in our jails opportunities to develop marketable skills and learn about business, we’re virtually guaranteeing that our prison system continues to be nothing more than a revolving door.

Another one of my bills that passed last Congress is the Microloan Transparency and Accountability Act.

On March 2nd, I re-introduced this bill with a bipartisan coalition.

It ensures that rural small businesses receive fair access to the Small Business Administration’s Microloan Program.

The bill would offer financial institutions an incentive to work with rural small businesses and would hold the SBA accountable by making the administration update Congress on which rural businesses receive microloans.

The Microloan Transparency and Accountability Act was expected to pass the House early this month, but the vote has been postponed twice; it should pass the House soon.

Under this bill, America’s entrepreneurs – regardless of background or location – will have easier access to capital and resources to help them reach their goals.

Finally, I recently introduced the Opportunity Zone Extension Act with Rep. Henry Cuellar, a Democrat out of Texas.

The 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act introduced Opportunity Zones, which are state-designated, low-income census tracts where investors can receive tax benefits in exchange for investing in new projects and businesses.

By encouraging long-term investment, Opportunity Zones can stimulate economic development and job creation in under-served areas.

Tennessee has 176 Opportunity Zones; 32% are in rural areas and 68% in urban communities.

Before COVID-19, they were responsible for generating 52 billion dollars in new investment and creating half a million jobs in economically distressed communities.

My bipartisan legislation seeks to extend Opportunity Zone tax incentives by two years, to 2028, to give investors extra time to support meaningful projects and encourage more investment activity in the wake of COVID-19.

I believe that an extension would help stimulate post-pandemic growth in challenging areas across Tennessee and the country.

And this redevelopment – right here at the old Kern’s Bakery – is a real-life example of the federal government getting things right.

This is also an example of the sort of success I believe my new economic policy initiative can help foster in Tennessee and across the United States, if we focus on the three core areas of encouraging access to capital, improving government efficiency, and working to pass targeted criminal justice reforms.

At this time, I’d like to invite Alex Dominguez and Brantley Basinger to say a few words about the Kern’s Bakery redevelopment site and how they used Opportunity Zone tax incentives to revitalize this property.

[Mr. Dominguez and Mr. Basinger provide remarks about the Kern’s Bakery project]

Thanks guys.

We appreciate your investment in our community, and it’s great to have an Opportunity Zone success story right here in South Knoxville.

Earlier this morning, we hosted a roundtable with local elected officials and economic development directors who have Opportunity Zones in their communities.

We had a good discussion about the successes or barriers they’ve encountered when trying to implement federal economic development programs, like Opportunity Zones.

Since this development directly impacts South Knoxville and ties into the City’s South Waterfront initiative, I wanted to offer City of Knoxville Mayor Indya Kincannon the opportunity to say a few words.

[Mayor Kincannon provides remarks]

Thank you, Mayor Kincannon.

My friend, Knox County Mayor Glenn Jacobs, also joined us for the discussion this morning.

As I mentioned earlier, I know firsthand the impact economic development has on Knox County’s bottom line.

And Mayor Jacobs has set his own priority areas that include stimulating economic development and attracting good-paying jobs for a growing workforce.

At this time, I’d like to introduce Knox County Mayor Glenn Jacobs and invite him to the podium.

[Mayor Jacobs provides remarks]

Thank you, Mayor Jacobs.

Today is just the beginning.

And Opportunity Zones are just one example of a bipartisan way to incentivize investments in our distressed rural and urban communities.

It may be a moonshot, but I’m committed to this economic policy initiative, and I’ll work across the aisle to identify and propose legislation that expands economic opportunities in East Tennessee.

I believe that together we can tackle the challenges in our distressed rural and urban communities by increasing access to capital, addressing government in-efficiency; and focusing on criminal justice reform.

I appreciate everyone being here today, and I look forward to working with you all to make DC work for those of us in East Tennessee.

[End Rep. Burchett’s remarks]