Press Releases

Reps. Herrera Beutler, Kilmer, Introduce Bipartisan Legislation to Spur Economic Growth, Create Jobs

RECOMPETE Act will invest in Southwest Washington communities that have faced long-term economic challenges

Today, U.S. Representatives Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-WA-03) and Derek Kilmer (D-WA-06) introduced the bipartisan Rebuilding Economies and Creating Opportunities for More People Everywhere to Excel Act (RECOMPETE Act). The RECOMPETE Act would establish a new federal program at the Economic Development Agency (EDA) in an effort to empower persistently distressed communities to develop, implement, and carry out 10-year economic development strategies and create jobs.

Distressed communities, as identified by the W. E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research, are home to almost one-sixth of the U.S. population and have an employment rate of workers ages 25 to 54 significantly well below the national average. The Upjohn Institute’s analysis suggests that these communities have largely been left out of the investment, wealth, innovation, and opportunity that has instead been concentrated in a handful of major metro areas in recent decades. 

The RECOMPETE Act would provide eligible local labor markets, local communities, and Tribal governments with 10-year RECOMPETE Grants in an effort to meet local economic development needs. Grants could be used for infrastructure investments, expansion of rural broadband, brownfield redevelopment, workforce development, small business assistance, resources to connect residents to opportunities, and other investments to help communities rebuild.

The bipartisan legislation is also being co-led by Reps. Steven Palazzo (R-MS-04), Doug LaMalfa (R-CA-01) and is supported by organizations representing city- and county-level leaders who know best how to meet the needs of their communities.

“Growing our economy and creating good paying jobs in Southwest Washington has always been my number one priority – not just in cities but each one of our rural communities too,” said Herrera Beutler. “It’s clear that parts of our region that were distressed pre-pandemic and are struggling mightily now would benefit immensely from improved infrastructure, reliable broadband, worker training, small business assistance and other tools and funding that can be controlled locally. That’s why I’m working with Rep. Kilmer to introduce the bipartisan RECOMPETE Act – a solution that will target these types of tools and resources in places where misguided regulations and government-mandated closures have hurt the most in order to spur the creation of new, permanent jobs.”

“I grew up in Port Angeles and was in high school right around the time the timber industry took it on the chin. I saw a lot of my friends’ parents lose their jobs. It had a big impact on me - and I’ve spent most of my adult life trying to figure out how to make sure we are doing a better job of protecting workers and communities so that no one gets left behind in our society and economy,” said Kilmer. “That’s why I’ve worked with Senator Coons and Rep. Herrera Beutler to introduce the bipartisan RECOMPETE Act – a bold proposal to provide flexible, long-term grant assistance to create jobs and lay the foundation for long-term economic growth and opportunity. This is about ensuring people have economic opportunity – regardless of what zip code they live in.”

“Through the Economic Development Agency, the RECOMPETE Act would give municipalities access to flexible grants to meet economic development needs, create good jobs, invest in their workforce, and connect residents to opportunities within persistently distressed communities,” said Clarence Anthony, CEO & Executive Director of the National League of Cities (NLC) in a letter supporting the RECOMPETE Act. “This bill recognizes the overall need to invest in America’s workforce and the differing needs within each community. By maintaining flexibility and local control, city leaders in persistently distressed communities can tailor workforce investments to properly prepare their residents to work in critical industries within the local economy. NLC is committed to realizing equitable solutions, and the RECOMPETE Act prioritizes investment where it is needed most.”

“Over the last 40 years, federal support to help lagging regions and communities rebound has been declining. Moreover, current efforts are often too little, too late to make a real difference for communities. The RECOMPETE Act would address these shortcomings by providing flexible long-term assistance to help persistently distressed labor markets, and the workers there, get back on their feet,” said Robert D. Atkinson, Ph. D., President of the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation. “The United States can no longer afford to write off whole communities. The RECOMPETE Act is an important step in reversing this trend.”

“The Washington State Association of Counties’ Federal Issues Committee agreed unanimously to support this innovative legislation. The block grant approach would empower historically distressed communities to craft targeted solutions to address the unique economic challenges within their communities. This legislation would move past the usual one-sized-fits-all approach that doesn’t reflect the uniqueness of our respective economies,” said Robert Gelder, Kitsap County Commissioner and federal issues committee chair for the Washington State Association of Counties.

In Southwest Washington, Lewis, Pacific, Cowlitz, Wahkiakum, Skamania, Klickitat, and Thurston Counties would be eligible for this grant funding as well as individual cities and towns that meet specific qualifications demonstrating that they are distressed economically.