Bipartisan Wicker bill authorizes $250M grant program to support economic development

U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker (R-MS) on Dec. 8 unveiled bipartisan legislation that would annually invest $250 million in a new five-year federal grant program to support economic development in America’s low-income, rural and minority communities.

“The coronavirus pandemic hit small businesses in local communities across the country,” said Sen. Wicker, ranking member of the U.S. Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee. “This legislation would support economic development on Main Streets in small towns across America and in Mississippi. 

“It would also empower rural, low-income, and minority-owned businesses through direct funding and technical assistance,” he added.

The Revitalizing Small and Local Businesses Act, S. 3340, which Sen. Wicker cosponsored alongside bill sponsor U.S. Sen. Alex Padilla (D-CA), would create a new competitive grant program through the Economic Development Administration (EDA) for nonprofits, business districts and Main Street organizations that provide assistance to small businesses in both urban and rural communities, according to a bill summary provided by the lawmakers.

If enacted, S. 3340 would authorize $250 million for the grant program over the next five years to fund community-based initiatives to help small businesses identify resources and develop skills to retain and create jobs, the summary says. 

Additionally, the bill would require national nonprofits that apply for the grants to work with locally based nonprofit or public community and economic development partners, according to the summary.

Several state and national business leaders endorsed S. 3340, including Brantley Snipes, executive director of Main Street Greenwood; David Jackson, executive director of Delta Housing Development Corp.; and Marla Bilonick, president and CEO of the National Association of Latino Community Builders.

S. 3340 has been referred for consideration to the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.