Washington, DC - Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee, spoke on the Senate floor today as debate began on bipartisan legislation that she introduced to reauthorize the Economic Development Administration (EDA), which provides investments in infrastructure and other projects to economically distressed communities.

The Economic Development Revitalization Act of 2011, S. 782, would enable the EDA to continue to support important economic development projects and drive local economic growth. According to EDA, each dollar invested has historically attracted nearly seven dollars in private sector investment. Since January of 2009, EDA has supported projects that have created an estimated 161,500 jobs and saved nearly 45,000 jobs.

The following are Senator Boxer's floor remarks as prepared for delivery:

Mr. President, I rise today in support of S. 782, the Economic Development Revitalization Act of 2011, which will reauthorize the Economic Development Administration (EDA) at $500 million annually for five years (Fiscal Years 2011 through 2015).

S. 782 has bipartisan support and was reported out of the EPW Committee by voice vote on April 14, 2011. Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK), Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT), Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR), and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) are cosponsors.

For nearly fifty years, EDA has created jobs and spurred growth in economically hard-hit communities nationwide. S. 782 will ensure that EDA will continue to create employment opportunities, maintain existing jobs, and drive local economic growth.

EDA's most recent authorization expired on September 30, 2008, but the agency has been able to continue operating through the appropriations process.

EDA assists some of America's hardest hit areas and revitalizes communities across the nation by leveraging investment. That is a life line for many regions struggling to recover in tough economic times.

EDA provides a wide range of assistance to economically underserved communities, such as funding for water and sewer improvements, and helping manufacturers and producers become more competitive in a global marketplace.

According to EDA, each dollar of investment has historically attracted nearly seven dollars in private sector investment.

Since January of 2009, EDA has funded public-private projects that grantees estimate have created 161,500 jobs and saved nearly 45,000 jobs.

In fiscal year 2010 alone, EDA approved investments of $640 million for 928 projects nationwide that are expected to create 74,000 jobs, save 22,000 jobs, and leverage almost $10 billion in private investment.

In my home State of California, EDA approved investments of $24 million in fiscal year 2010 for 27 projects expected to create 11,000 jobs, save 400 jobs, and leverage $400 million in private investment. Here are just a few of the projects:

• City of Dixon, $3 million for water system improvements that will increase the city's water supply and storage capacity, and will eliminate a major impediment to planned development and expansion of the City's commercial and industrial area. This project is expected to create 1,000 jobs and leverage $40 million in private investment.

• City of Shafter, $2 million for sewer and water improvements to serve the East Shafter Logistical Center, which will allow development of an additional 600 acres to enable continued growth of the Center and support this multimodal transportation hub. This project is expected to create 1,485 jobs and leverage $253 million in private investment.

• San Jose, $3 million for the renovation and expansion of the Center for Employment Training, which will allow the Center to increase its annual capacity by 860 students and expand access to GED, literacy, language and small business entrepreneurship classes to low-income area residents and dislocated workers. This project is expected to create 4,900 jobs and leverage $3 million in private investment.

In 2003, EDA invested $1.8 million in the construction of a more than 23,000 square foot Water and Energy Technology Incubator in the Central Valley of California. According to EDA, the incubator has housed more than 15 entrepreneurs since it opened in 2007, and those entrepreneurs have obtained over $17 million in private capital and created jobs for Central Californians.

In order to help mitigate the Boeing Company's decision to reduce manufacturing jobs in Renton, Washington, EDA invested $2 million in 2006 to help build infrastructure to serve the commercial redevelopment of a 42 acre former aircraft manufacturing site. The redevelopment has created a mixed use campus used by businesses focusing on commercial services, high technology and life sciences, which has helped create 2,500 jobs.

In 2001 an EDA grant of $3.5 million matched by $2.3 million from the City of Duluth helped build the Duluth Aviation Business Incubator at the Duluth Airport. This investment helped Cirrus Aircraft grow from a handful of employees to 1,012 employees by 2008. The incubator is now leased to Cirrus Design Corporation, which has the largest share of the worldwide general aviation market.

In 2007 the Maytag plant and headquarters in Newton, Iowa, which employed 1,800 factory and administrative workers was closed down. By 2008, the city identified two new manufacturing operations that could be located on the old Maytag site: TPI Composites Inc., a wind turbine blade manufacturer; and Trinity Structural Towers Inc., a manufacturer of massive steel towers for windmills. EDA invested $580,000 in 2008 for grading, site preparation and surfacing for a wind tower storage facility that was leased to Trinity. This project helped create 140 jobs and generate $21 million in private investment.

That same year, EDA also invested $670,000 in the Central Iowa Water Association in Newton to help build a booster station and storage tank to serve TPI Composites. This project helped create 500 jobs and generate $40 million in private investment.

In 2010 EDA gave a $750,000 grant to Seedco Financial Services Inc., a national non-profit community development financial institution. Seedco used this funding to provide capital to Sub Zero Insulation and Refrigeration Technologies, LLC, which is a family-owned and operated manufacturer of custom, environmentally friendly, energy efficient refrigerated/insulated commercial truck and van liners located in Brooklyn, New York.

Sub Zero had been denied financing by a major bank. EDA provided the access to capital which allowed Sub-Zero to fulfill its contract with Edible Arrangement to outfit delivery vehicles, and to win contracts from Ford, Chevy, and Dodge. This allowed Sub Zero to hire 15 new staff. Starting in 2004 with just 3 employees and producing 75 vehicles a year, the company now has 20 employees and produces approximately 400 vehicles per year.

In 2002, EDA provided $2 million to help build the Knowledge Works pre-incubator facility as part of the development of the Virginia Tech Corporate Research Center, in Blacksburg, Virginia. The Center and its Knowledge Works pre-incubator facility have lead to the creation of 2,000 high-wage jobs and the inception of 140 high-tech businesses.

In addition to helping communities respond to job loss due to the closure of a manufacturing plant or defense facility, EDA also helps communities respond to sudden and severe economic dislocations due to natural disasters.

In Fiscal Year 2008, Congress provided EDA with a total of $500 million in natural disaster assistance through two supplemental appropriations. With these funds, EDA was able to assume the role of a secondary responder working with affected communities to support long-term post disaster economic recovery in response to hurricanes, floods and other natural disasters.

For example, in 2009 EDA provided funding to help construct and install an upgraded, energy efficient natural gas-fired boiler system in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, following a 2008 flood that destroyed the coal-fired boiler that had provided steam heat and hot water to St. Luke's Hospital and Coe College. When the utility that owned the damaged facility decided not to rebuild after the flood, it left the hospital and college without a reliable energy supply.

According EDA, the $4.6 million investment was critical to keeping the hospital and college open and saving hundreds of jobs.

EDA's work has broad support from organizations committed to economic development and job creation in communities around this country. The following organizations have sent letters supporting S. 782 and urging the Senate to approve it: The United States Conference of Mayors, AFL-CIO, American Public Works Association, National Association of Counties, American Planning Association, Association of University Research Parks, Educational Association of University Centers, International Economic Development Council, National Association of Development Organizations, National Business Incubation Association, State Science & Technology Institute, University Economic Development Association and the National Association of Regional Councils.

The Commerce Business Civic Leadership Center, which is the corporate citizenship arm of the US Chamber, sent a letter outlining their positive experiences working with EDA. According to the letter, BCLC has worked with EDA on numerous projects in the past ten years in communities across the county including in San Jose, CA; Seattle, WA; Cedar Rapids, IA; Mobile, AL; New Orleans, LA; Atlanta, GA; Boca Raton, FL; Minneapolis, MN; Newark, NJ, and many others.

Given the current economic troubles facing many parts of our country, the Economic Development Administration is providing a service we cannot do without. I urge my colleagues to join me in support of this important legislation.


Video of Senator Boxer's floor speech is available on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/EPWChairmanBoxer