JULY 14, 1998

Mr. Chairman, I want to begin by thanking you for holding this hearing today. Both you and the Chairman of the full Committee have been extremely accommodating to my requests for this hearing. I appreciate your courtesies.

Mr. Chairman, this hearing is important because programs under the jurisdiction of the Economic Development Administration have not been reauthorized for almost two decades. It is my hope that this hearing will help highlight the important work undertaken at the EDA.

For despite the uncertainty and instability that a lack of authorization has created, EDA has become the cornerstone for efforts to strengthen and diversify the economies of our nation's communities.

Since its inception in 1965, the EDA has established an impressive track record of helping communities help themselves. These "bootstrap" efforts have allowed cities and towns to meet economic challenges in a variety of ways. One example is making public works improvements to attract new businesses. Another is to provide technical assistance and planning grants that allow a community to plan for their future.

In Montana, EDA has been a powerful ally in responding to the changing economic conditions in communities that have relied on one industry -- only to see that industry shut-down and move away. EDA's planning and public works assistance has allowed these communities to attract new companies, retain companies already in place and diversify their economies.

For example, EDA helped the folks in the Great Falls area of Montana. Through an economic development revolving loan fund grant, EDA is helping the community undertake a defense conversion project that is necessary because of the restructuring of Malmstrom Air Force Base.

Mr. Chairman, hundreds of jobs have been lost in this area due to defense downsizing. But this EDA revolving loan fund grant will enable three firms to locate in the area and employ over 750 people in the not too distant future. These will be good jobs and will help replace the jobs that have been lost.

EDA has also made a revolving loan fund grant in Butte which is being used to supply equipment at a new plant to make silicon wafers used in computer chips. This plant will eventually employ over 250 Butte area residents. For a rural State like Montana, that is a lot of new jobs.

EDA has also been instrumental in assisting areas affected by natural disasters. In Florida and Louisiana, EDA was there to help businesses devastated by Hurricane Andrew. And EDA is still working with those areas of the Midwest devastated by the disastrous floods of 1993 and those areas affected by floods in the Pacific Northwest.

The EDA's programs are effective tools that are used on the local level -- working hand-in-hand with local governments and businesses to develop future economic investment strategies. By acting as a catalyst, economic development funds are used to attract significant private contributions and support.

Mr. Chairman, I was pleased in February to introduce the Administration's EDA reauthorization proposal along with Senator Snowe. There are currently 40 cosponsors from both sides of the aisle. I believe the bill can serve as a starting point to reauthorize this important agency. I look forward to working with you and Chairman Chafee in the coming weeks. By working in a bi-partisan manner, I hope we can produce a reauthorization bill that the entire Senate can support.