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RECOMPETE Act Could Bring New Jobs to Rural Michigan

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Wednesday, August 31, 2022   

A program approved by Congress aims to give rural communities a leg up when applying for federal dollars.

The CHIPS Act, passed last month, aims to boost manufacturing in the United States. It includes a $1 billion pilot program, the RECOMPETE Act, to help distressed communities fund economic development.

John LaMacchia, director of state and federal affairs for the Michigan Municipal League, said it would fill a major need in rural Michigan.

"We've got a lot of small members that need a lot of help," LaMacchia explained. "We're in the business trying to help them as much as we possibly can. And if we look at that through an equity lens, we got an opportunity not just for one or two places to be successful, but for all of our places to be successful."

The program will help distressed areas apply for federal funding for initiatives to support long-term economic growth and create lasting, quality jobs. LaMacchia said the RECOMPETE Act comes at an especially critical time, as the bipartisan infrastructure law will be directing billions of dollars to states.

Matt Hildreth, executive director of RuralOrganizing.org, said the development needs of rural communities are vast. He explains the RECOMPETE Act should provide local leaders with the flexibility to invest in challenges they see in their specific community.

"Some communities need investments in infrastructure. Some communities need investments in broadband, others need investments in transitioning from one industry to another," Hildreth outlined. "So, it's not a one-size-fits-all approach. It is locally led."

In a state like Michigan, LaMacchia added the larger cities are typically first in line for federal grants, but believes the new program could make a change.

"I think we have been very intentional in trying to drive equity in the way in which we disperse resources across the state," LaMacchia noted. "Which undoubtedly is going to help our more rural, small, mid-size communities more than ever before."

Federal regulations define distressed communities as those with median household income below 75,000 dollars a year, and where the employment rate is significantly below the national average.


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