July 02, 2020
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Angus King (I-Maine) joined 16 of his Senate colleagues in a letter to Congressional leadership calling for additional funding for the Economic Development Administration (EDA)’s programs in future coronavirus economic recovery legislation. The EDA’s programs help drive locally organized economic development projects, develop new industries, build vital infrastructure, and enhance economic drivers like tourism and travel; in Maine, these efforts have helped establish the Forest Opportunity Roadmap (FOR/ME) initiative and the Maine Marine Economy Initiative, two industry-led efforts to support and revitalize key economic sectors. While the CARES Act eliminated local funding match requirements for EDA programs, additional investments are needed to ensure local communities that are reliant on tourism and travel have the resources they need to safely re-open and plan for the future. The intent of these federal investments is to better prepare rural and urban America for the economic recovery.
“For many years, EDA has provided valuable federal support for a variety of investments, in both rural and urban communities, to help drive locally organized economic development that capitalizes on the unique natural, historic and cultural assets throughout the country,” said the Senators. “States, localities, and economic development organizations need these [EDA] investments to help rehabilitate their economies, expand for the future, and help put more of our citizens back to work. This is especially true where whole industries have been decimated by the inability of travelers, both foreign and domestic, to visit our attractions, hotels, and restaurants. A dedication of additional funds to these important sectors would also go to help in managing the cleanliness and sanitation of their sites to help protect travelers, including educating visitors about the precautionary measures that localities and businesses have put in place.”
“The EDA’s ability and record of investing in vital infrastructure is another reason for why this funding is so necessary,” the Senators continued. “Infrastructure such as broadband, water systems, and transportation projects can have a dramatic multiplier effect in helping reshape and broaden the economic vitality of communities both big and small, including our nation’s many tribal communities…While the CARES Act provided a vital initial infusion of EDA funding, your support of this request will help further diversify economies, assist in needed workforce development, and enhance quality of life through a more robust economic recovery, especially in rural America.”
Senator King has fought to support Maine’s tourism industry and related economic sectors both prior to and during the coronavirus pandemic. Earlier this month, Senator King introduced the Visit America Act, which would set a visitation goal of 116 million annual international travelers to the United States by 2028, formally authorize the U.S. Travel and Tourism Advisory Board, and create a high-ranking position within the Department of Commerce focused on bolstering America’s travel and tourism industry and coordinating a tourism strategy across multiple federal agencies. Senator King’s legislation to improve the Paycheck Protection Program was signed into law, providing Maine businesses with additional flexibility as they continue to navigate the challenges of the coronavirus. He is a lead sponsor of the Restore Our Parks Act, which is likely to see Senate consideration this week and aims to address the maintenance backlog at national parks. The legislation would directly support 40,300 jobs and indirectly support 100,100 jobs over the next five years according to a recent study by the National Parks Service. Additionally, Senator King has cosponsored legislation to reauthorize Brand USA, a public-private partnership that enhances tourism across the country through marketing campaigns that promote international travel to the United States. That legislation was signed into law in December 2019.
The full text of the letter can be found HERE.