Click here to watch Chairman Barrasso’s remarks.

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, U.S. Senator John Barrasso (R-WY), chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works (EPW), delivered the following remarks at a hearing titled “Oversight of the Economic Development Administration.” 

The hearing featured testimony from Dr. John Fleming, assistant secretary of commerce for economic development at the U.S. Department of Commerce. 

For more information on witness testimony click here. 

Senator Barrasso’s remarks: 

“Today, we will conduct oversight of the Economic Development Administration (EDA). 

“I welcome our witness Dr. John Fleming, assistant secretary of commerce for economic development. 

“In March of last year, the Senate confirmed Dr. Fleming. 

“I look forward to hearing about the agency’s priorities under your leadership.

“The Economic Development Administration’s mission is to foster regional economic development efforts in communities across the nation. 

“That mission is guided by the principle that sustainable economic development should be locally-driven. 

“Instead of a Washington-knows-best approach, the Economic Development Administration works hand-in-hand with local partners. 

“The agency provides limited funding and technical assistance to advance projects that already have local buy-in and are best positioned to succeed. 

“These projects are linked to a region’s long-term, sustainable, economic development strategy. 

“Many communities were hit hard during the great recession.

“The economic impacts to coal communities, under the Obama administration, were devastating. 

“Economic conditions, combined with a war on coal, put the industry’s best-paying jobs in the cross hairs. 

“No state felt this more than Wyoming, the leading coal-producing state in America.

“President Trump has worked to reverse this trend. 

“Under his leadership, the Economic Development Administration established the Assistance to Coal Communities Initiative. 

“Coal is a valuable resource. 

“It powers our homes, it fuels our factories.

“What many outside coal country might not realize is new uses for coal that are emerging. 

“Just last year, EDA provided $1.4 million in funding to the Campbell County Economic Development Corporation for its Advanced Carbon Products Innovation Center. 

“This center is working to bring new uses for coal from the lab to the marketplace. 

“These uses might include carbon fiber or pavement material. 

“The Center is expected to create jobs and attract $15 million in private investment. 

“In addition to attracting private sector investment, I commend the administration’s partnership with our state educational institutions to promote workforce development. 

“A great example is the Northern Wyoming Community College District. 

“Last year, the college district received an EDA grant to support workforce training at Gillette College. 

“The grant is funding the purchase of science, technology, engineering, and management equipment.

“The Economic Development Administration’s support for Wyoming workers extends beyond the energy industry.

“In 2019, the agency provided $3 million in funding to Central Wyoming College to build a new agricultural training facility.  

“The new 85,000 square foot facility will provide hands-on training to Wyoming students. 

“The college is building the training facility in an area identified as an opportunity zone, under the new tax reform law.

“These opportunity zones are areas across the country where new investment can spur economic development. 

“As Dr. Fleming will discuss, the Economic Development Administration is focusing its work in these areas. 

“This is another example of how the Trump administration is implementing the tax reform law to grow our economy and help communities by providing additional opportunities. 

“I look forward to hearing more about these initiatives and the other good work that’s being done by the Economic Development Administration.”