WASHINGTON – Today U.S. Senators Ben Cardin, Member of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works (EPW), and Chris Van Hollen, member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, announced millions in federal funding as part of the Fiscal Year 2017 Omnibus Funding bill that will help Western Maryland. The House and Senate are both scheduled to vote on the legislation this week.
The Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) is set to receive $152 million in the FY 2017 appropriations bill, up from the previous year’s $144 million. Since its creation, ARC has invested in 25,000 projects across Appalachia, creating nearly 312,000 jobs and generating $10 billion in added earnings for the region. After President Trump proposed eliminated ARC’s funding with his 2017 budget proposal, Senators Cardin and Van Hollen joined a bipartisan group of colleagues urging the president to reconsider and work with Congress to find the funds necessary. Their full letter can be found here.
The Historically Underutilized Business Zone Empowerment Contracting (HUBZone) program is set to receive $3 million under the legislation. The program helps small businesses rebuild, revitalize, and invest in distressed communities in Maryland and across the United States. Senators Cardin and Van Hollen have introduced legislation to improve the program, which would impact Garrett County and Baltimore City.
The Commerce Department’s Economic Development Administration (EDA), also targeted for zero funding by the Trump budget, is set to receive $276 million in the bipartisan appropriations bill, $15 million more than was enacted in FY 2016. The Economic Development Administration is the only Federal agency dedicated exclusively to promoting economic development. It supports American innovation and competitiveness by awarding grants for infrastructure and development in distressed communities, and leverages local and private investments to create jobs throughout the United States.
“These programs are central to the success of counties in Western Maryland and provide support to hundreds of thousands of rural Marylanders,” the lawmakers said. “Working together, we can improve our infrastructure, support our local businesses, and bring strong job training programs and good-paying jobs to Maryland.”
The legislation also includes billions of dollars that will help Western Maryland. Programs that specifically affect rural communities include:
- $2.94 billion for rural development programs, which is $166 million above FY 2016
- $920 million for the rural business and industry loan program – Maryland received $430,000 from this program in FY 2016
- $1.821 billion for rural water and waste program loans and grants – Maryland received $14.506 million from this program in FY 2016
- $1 billion in direct loans for low-income rural families to purchase homes – Maryland received $9.52 million from this program in FY 2016
- $1.4 billion for rental assistance for affordable housing in rural communities – Maryland received $19.86 million from this program in FY 2016
- $24 billion in rural housing guaranteed loans – Maryland received $451.38 million from this program in FY 2016