Walz Introduces Small Town & Regional Vitality Investment Act
MANKATO, MN – This week, U.S. Representative Tim Walz (MN-01) introduced the Small Town and Regional Vitality Act of 2018 (H.R. 6383), a strategic investment in the small town way of life and regional vitality.
Rep. Walz’s Small Town and Regional Vitality Investment Act is the direct result of conversations he and his office had in rural communities with local leaders along their Southern Minnesota Way of Life Tour. Along the listening tour, Walz and his team traveled to all 21 counties of Minnesota’s First Congressional District to hear constituents’ ideas for how to enrich their communities and prepare them to thrive for decades to come.
“All along our listening tour, the message we heard from Minnesotans was clear: it’s time for Washington to empower our local leaders to drive the solutions to their communities’ most pressing challenges. Township chairs, mayors, county commissioners and labor leaders know their own communities best. They understand what the issues are and have a good sense of what it will take to address them,” said Rep. Walz. “It was also abundantly clear in conversations at community roundtables that in order for current day investments in our small towns to have a positive, long-lasting effect, they must be tied with strategic regional frameworks for long-term vitality.”
“I am proud to introduce the Small Town and Regional Vitality Investment Act to empower our local elected officials to overcome major barriers to future vitality in a flexible, strategic way – but make no mistake, it was truly written by the people of southern Minnesota over the course of two years,” Walz continued. “By investing in our shared public goods, such as human capital, public infrastructure, community amenities, and early childhood development, the bill will help our small towns achieve their full potential and thrive for decades to come. It will help draw folks who pursued educational and economic opportunities elsewhere back to rural areas, help attract young folks who are ready to settle down and start a family, and help recruit highly skilled workers to fill job vacancies.”
“As small towns across the nation face barriers to addressing critical challenges in child care, infrastructure, education, housing, healthcare and beyond, there are many reasons for our small town Minnesota communities to have hope for the future,” said Walz in closing. “From pristine outdoor recreation destinations to landmarks rich with art and cultural history, small towns across Minnesota already have one-of-a-kind assets and many even attract tourists from across the globe. The other good news is that countless rural Minnesota communities hold immense promise for growth and development. It’s long past time the federal government properly invests in the promise of our small towns – and listen to local leaders in their respective communities on how to do so. I urge Congress to pass the Small Town and Regional Vitality Investment Act without delay.”
To help address the critical challenges leaders in small towns and rural areas are facing when it comes to meeting the current and projected needs of their local residents and communities, Walz’s legislation creates a new investment initiative by sharing federal revenues directly with local governments to address the major challenges facing their specific communities. The resulting investments will empower local leaders to build up their communities and create jobs in the process. The bill also spurs the alignment of the pressing decisions small towns have to make with their region’s long-term strategic framework.
The specific needs of small town communities the bill will address include but aren’t limited to:
- affordable, quality child care and early childhood education options
- public infrastructure investment, such as waste water treatment facilities and substance abuse treatment centers
- sufficient housing opportunities for the local workforce
- reliable, high-speed internet
- increase in health care services, including mental health care, and affordable health insurance options
- increase in skilled, experienced workers
- increase in amenities like art and music, sports, bike trails, and other outdoor recreational opportunities
The following are quotes from various Minnesotans in support of Walz’s Small Town and Regional Vitality Investment Act:
Mayor Roy Srp, Waseca
“The Small Towns and Regional Vitality Investment Act is the kind of game changer that can revitalize rural Minnesota and spark economic growth across the state. This bill is an example of the kind of leadership Congressman Walz is known for. He listens and brings people together to solve problems.”
Nicole Griensewic-Mickelson, Executive Director, Region 9 Development
“Rural communities across Minnesota can tackle the challenges they face if we work together to create investment in the things that matter most. Organizations like mine help communities plan for their future and this legislation will tie that planning to strategic investment that will improve small towns across the state.”
Carly Melin, Executive Director, MN Building and Construction Trades Council
“Many of our workers have to travel long distances to job sites. This legislation will create jobs close to home for Minnesotan construction workers and will help revitalize local economies from the ground up.”
To learn more about how Rep. Walz’s Small Town and Regional Vitality Investment Act will help Minnesota’s small towns reach their full potential, please click here for an overview and click here for the full bill text.