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New $5 Billion Program to Invest in Communities Hurt by Trade, Championed by Congressman Kildee, Passes Ways & Means Committee

September 10, 2021
Press Release
Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) for Communities Program Would Help Bring Economic Investment to Economically Distressed Communities

WASHINGTON—Congressman Dan Kildee (MI-05), Chief Deputy Whip of the House Democratic Caucus and member of the House Ways and Means Committee, praised the Ways and Means Committee’s passage of the Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) Modernization Act of 2021 as part of President Joe Biden’s budget reconciliation bill. The bill includes Congressman Kildee’s new TAA for Communities program, which would provide targeted, robust federal support to communities that have suffered chronic economic hardship and job loss due to trade-related events.

TAA for Communities would build on current TAA programs for workers to help communities that experience trade-related hardships. The TAA for Communities program would help eligible communities negatively impacted by trade create economic development plans and attract new investment. The program allocates $5 billion over five years to execute economic development plans, eliminate blight from communities, improve public services and encourage private-sector job creation in select communities like Flint, Saginaw and Bay City that have seen their local economies negatively impacted by trade.

“When a manufacturing plant closes due to trade, it is not just the workers and the company that are negatively impacted—the entire surrounding community is affected. And while current Trade Adjustment Assistance programs focus on helping workers after they lose their jobs, we must do more to bring new economic opportunity to communities hurt by trade,” said Congressman Kildee. “My legislation secures federal funding to help communities—many older, industrial communities like Flint, Saginaw and Bay City—create strategic plans for local economic redevelopment projects. By providing more tools for communities to plan, invest and grow their local economies, we can ensure that we’re not just reacting to trade-related changes, but instead setting communities up for success to attract new jobs and opportunities. I want to thank Chairman Neal and Chairman Blumenauer for their work with me on this important legislation.”

Eligible communities must have previously received a TAA certification and have an average income of 80% of the federal poverty line, persistent long-term poverty, or significantly distressed by trade. The current TAA authorization expired at the end of June. Eligible cities in Michigan may include Holland, Grand Rapids, Warren, Wyoming, Battle Creek, Dearborn, Kalamazoo, Lansing, Pontiac, Detroit and Muskegon.

Congressman Kildee’s legislation would: 

  • Provide $5 billion over five years to economically distressed communities.
  • Benefit communities and tribes—in addition to workers and companies—that have been negatively impacted by trade.
  • Be flexible so that communities can decide how to spend the funds, tailoring the program to actually meet their needs.
  • Help communities streamline their applications, making it easier to access federal assistance programs.
  • Require the Economic Development Administration to help eligible communities make the best use of available funding by providing significant technical assistance.

“The TAA for Communities proposal takes a broader view of the federal support that hard hit places need to respond to market disruption and globalization challenges. This is a necessary step for communities to find their new competitive edge,” said Bruce Katz, Founding Director, Nowak Metro Finance Lab, Drexel University.

“The Local Initiatives Support Corporation is deeply appreciative of Congressman Kildee’s efforts in creating the Trade Adjustment Assistance for Communities proposal and fighting for its inclusion in the reconciliation legislation,” said Matt Josephs, Senior Vice President for Policy, Local Initiatives Support Corporation. “This program targets the communities that have been hardest hit by dislocation and disinvestment with the resources that are necessary to help remediate blight, attract new industries, and rebuild community assets.” 

“Communities around the country have been grappling with trade-related economic impacts for decades. In our work, we have seen the cascading effects that a closed plant or factory can have on the fabric of a community: the lost jobs, the weakened markets, and the vacancy, abandonment, and disinvestment that too often follow,” said Dr. Akilah Watkins, President and CEO of the Center for Community Progress. “Investing in locally-designed economic development strategies and supporting flexible recovery activities—including land banking, demolition, and rehabilitation of vacant structures—will redound to the benefit of communities in need. We thank Congressman Kildee for his leadership and vision and enthusiastically support the TAA for Communities program in the Trade Adjustment Assistance Modernization Act of 2021 Act.”

Since being elected to Congress, Kildee has worked to change the way Congress and policymakers think about and invest in America’s cities and towns. Congressman Kildee’s recent “The Future of America’s Cities and Towns” initiative encouraged policy discussions with local, state and federal elected officials, as well as public policy experts. It focused on the unique challenges and opportunities facing many older, industrial communities. He has been a consistent advocate for sustained, strategic federal investment in America’s cities and towns, especially older, industrial Midwest towns. Recently, Congressman Kildee has introduced several bills, including the Revitalizing Downtowns Act, to encourage investment in Michigan’s changing downtowns and promote redevelopment of vacant and abandoned property.

As a member of the House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Trade, Kildee has advocated for enforcing trade agreements that protect Michigan workers and businesses. Last Congress, Kildee fought to improve and ultimately pass the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Trade Agreement, replacing the disastrous North American Free Trade Agreement, ensuring older, industrial cities and can compete and win in the twenty-first-century economy.