October 06, 2004

Senate Approves Wyden Amendment to Protect Economic Development Projects in Oregon's Small Communities

Legislation helps rural and distressed communities where jobs, economic growth are needed most

Washington, DC - U.S. Senator Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) today announced Senate approval of his amendment to keep Oregon's distressed and rural communities from losing economic development opportunities because of burdensome financial requirements recently imposed by the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA). Wyden's amendment was included in the EDA reauthorization legislation passed by the Senate today. Earlier this year EDA told communities that beginning immediately, they would need to raise $22 in private funds for every $1 they requested in government funds - a significant increase in the "private sector leveraging goal" used to determine which projects are funded. Wyden's amendment would keep the EDA from blindsiding communities with such unreasonable requirements in this way, and requires the EDA Secretary to ensure that rural and economically distressed areas are not adversely affected by any private sector leveraging goal. "I am very pleased that the Senate has acted to ensure that the EDA helps - not hinders - Oregon's rural communities, many of which are hurting right now," said Wyden. "This amendment will help Oregon's rural economy by keeping burdensome and unreasonable financial requirements from being enacted while rural Oregonians are working very hard to make ends meet." The Wyden amendment requires Congressional notification of any changes in private sector leveraging goals. It also includes important reporting requirements to allow Congress to monitor the use of ratio goals in dispensing Federal development funds. When EDA announced implementation of a 22:1 private sector leveraging goal earlier this year, Wyden wrote to David Sampson, Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development, to express his concern. He outlined four EDA projects that had created or would create 800 jobs in Oregon, but that would not have met the new 22:1 ratio imposed by the agency. Sampson subsequently agreed to reduce the high ratio goal for private dollars. The legislation reauthorizing the EDA now moves to the House of Representatives for its consideration.