The best way to address our deficit is to make sure that every American has a job. After all, there are nearly 14 million Americans who would prefer to be paying taxes instead of collecting unemployment insurance.

Since 1965, the Economic Development Agency (EDA) – the grant-making arm of the Department of Commerce – has been charged with providing the resources needed to help businesses hire new workers in economically hard-hit areas. For over four decades, EDA funds have been used to help small businesses, community leaders, and local and state governments create jobs. In the past five years, EDA grants have helped create 300,000 jobs nationwide. In fact, for every dollar of EDA money spent, there is a seven dollar return on that investment.

That’s why EDA is crucial to our continued economic recovery. Right now, Congress has the opportunity to reauthorize, or extend, EDA – which has always enjoyed strong bipartisan support – for five more years. But some Washington politicians want to play politics with this known job creator by threatening to vote against the Economic Development Revitalization Act of 2011. Even more cynically, some politicians are offering amendments to this bill – that have nothing to with EDA or job growth – in an effort to prevent its passage. Now is not the time for such games.

A vote against EDA extension is a vote against an economic lifeline for Ohio workers.

Dozens of EDA projects have already saved or created new jobs in our state. For example, EDA resources have been used at a number of Ohio universities to promote job innovation and incubation. Ohio schools including: University of Akron; Bowling Green; Kent State; Youngstown State; Miami University; Cleveland State; Hocking Technical College; and Toledo Medical have all used EDA funds to help support the creation of new Ohio-based businesses. Similarly, EDA funds were also used to fund construction on a highway route in Pike County, expanding access to a local manufacturing center to help create good-paying jobs for Ohio’s skilled workers.

In Ohio alone, between 2006 and 2010, EDA investments have helped to create or save some 8,274 jobs.

Still, Ohio currently has an 8.6 percent unemployment rate. Now is not the time to eliminate this economic booster to Ohio cities that have suffered from major plant closings and other economic strife.

With so many out of work, we cannot afford to let the Economic Development Administration flounder.

That’s why I’m working hard to get the bipartisan Economic Development Revitalization Act of 2011 passed.

EDA invests in economically hard-hit neighborhoods to end generational disadvantages in areas suffering from limited job opportunities. It provides public infrastructure grants, technical assistance and research, and supports comprehensive economic development strategies. EDA also supports entrepreneurialism and job creation by assisting entrepreneurs as they take their ideas and develop them into successful businesses.

The Business Incubator Promotion Act – which I plan to add as an amendment to EDA reauthorization – would help empower local entrepreneurs who spur innovation and create new jobs. We already know that for every $10,000 invested in business incubators, up to nearly 70 local jobs are generated. This amendment would encourage the formation of business incubators in distressed communities to promote innovation and entrepreneurship, helping regions to create high-skill, high-wage jobs.

Ohio is home to more than a dozen regional business incubators and the National Business Incubation Association. These incubators are places where entrepreneurs can get the support they need during the most difficult start up phase of a new business.

The amendment that I introduced would make more communities in Ohio eligible to receive funds that support business incubators.

For nearly half a century, Congress – with broad bipartisan support – has recognized that government can help spur job growth by working with small business owners, entrepreneurs, universities, and local governments. That’s why this bipartisan legislation has always passed with ease. Now, when jobs are so desperately needed in Ohio – and throughout America – it is not the time to play politics. This bipartisan legislation is urgently needed.

Let’s get to work putting Ohioans back to work now.

A list of Ohio’s EDA offices can be found here.

For more information on Sen. Brown’s work for Ohio, please click here.

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Sen. Sherrod Brown
713 Hart Senate Office Bldg.
Washington, DC 20510
p (202) 224-2315
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