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tv   Hearing on Economic Development Administration  CSPAN  February 4, 2020 1:32pm-2:34pm EST

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unfiltered view of government every day since 1979. and this year we're bringing you an unfiltered view of the people seeking to steer that government this november. in other words, your future. so this election season, go deep, direct, and unfiltered. see the biggest picture for yourself and make up your own mind. with c-span's campaign 2020, brought to you as a public service by your television provider. the senate environment and public works committee held a hearing on the economic development administration which makes investments in economically distressed communities. the assistant commerce secretary for economic development testified at the hearing.
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>> good morning. i'll call this hearing to order. and today we will conduct oversight of the economic development administration. i would like to welcome our witness, dr. john fleming. we've worked together over the years. he's assistant secretary of commerce for economic development. in march of last year the senate confirmed dr. fleming. we look forward to hearing about the agency's priorities under your leadership. the economic development administration's mission is to foster regional economic investment efforts in communities across the nation. that mission is guided by the principle that sustainable economic development should be locally driven. instead of the 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.
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many communities were hard-hit during the great recession. the economic impacts to coal communities under the obama administration were devastating. economic conditions combined with the war on coal put the industry's best paying jobs in the crosshairs. 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 there are new uses for coal and those 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 to coal from the lab to the marketplace. these uses might include carbon fiber, urban paving material,
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and the center is expected to create jobs and attract about $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 in 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. 2019, the agency provided $3 million in funding to central wyoming college to build a new agriculture training facility. the new 85,000 square foot facility will provides hands-on training to wyoming students. the college is building the
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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 i'm sure 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 good work that's being done by the economic development administration. i would now like to turn to ranking member carper. senator inhofe, in light of your commitment as chairman of the armed services committee, and this issue of scheduling. >> thank you. yeah, i thank both of you for giving us this opportunity. we have a reason we can't be here, i don't need your opening statement, i know exactly what we're doing, i know the
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successes we've had, i know the eda has really performed well. it follows the lines, as the chairman just said, that we have the opportunity to use matching funds to show that the support at home is really big. in my state of oklahoma, as you well know, and some of the others know here, i'm sure, that we had a devastating flood this past year. and it was one that was one of these hundred-year things that happens every year. you always hear about. but this was really bad. and our levee in tulsa, we call it the west tulsa levee, was built in the middle '40s. it was well past its life at that time. when this flood came in, we were actually -- we had people with fingers in the dike down there, literally. we were very fortunate that we didn't have a major disaster. in addition to that, we had problems. a lot of people don't know that we in oklahoma are navigable, we
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have navigation that comes you will the way up to tulsa. but going through the port of mi mi misskoge, that falls into the disaster recovery grant. those two programs primarily, let me first of all thank you and the corps of engineers for moving up the studies that are going to be necessary before we actually start fixing that dike. it's been -- initially we thought it was going to be three years and it's turned out to be a year and a half. so we're making great headway. what i would like to do is just to be sure, as we found out when we had the committee hearing with the corps of engineers, they said there's no higher priority in the country than this, to get it done, because it would mean lives if something else happened. i would kind of like to make sure that you still feel the same way about your participation in helping us to fix that levee. >> thank you, senator inhofe.
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and let me say first of all that since 2015, eda's priority when it comes to disaster relief has out. so we're looking at the tulsa account drainage district 12 levee pump stations. and application has been made, and coincidentally, senator, the decision is being made by the committee that makes its decision today. so perhaps -- >> where is that team, please? >> in austin. >> okay. >> we're broken up into six regions. and each application goes to whichever region of course has authority. in this case it's austin. and it would never make it that far if it wasn't a really good application. i can't get ahead of the decision, of course, and in fact the decision is not mine.
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it does lie at the regional level. so i hope to have good news for you by the end of the day. >> i appreciate that very much. i was not aware that that was taking place. we'll have to take note of that, because this is something i hear about on a daily basis. this is kind of the number one concern and problem that we've had there. so let me first of all thank the chairman and senator carper for let meg forge ahead on this, and let me thank you for the priority that you've already demonstrated that you're giving and we'll look for wonderful things to happen. >> thank you so much. >> thank you very much. >> thank you, senator. senator carper. >> you can never have too many doctors at a hearing, dr. fleming, dr. grasso, thank you for your service in a lot of different ways for our country. this is a great opportunity for us to hear a little bit about some of the programs at eda,
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some of which which we're intimately familiar with, others not, but to hear how you're doing and how you're approaching in the first year of this leadership role, how eda is doing. senator rounds and i are both recovering governors and we approach a lot of issues here with our recovering governor hat on. i was governor for eight years during when bill clinton was president, we had eight years of balanced budget, we reduced taxes, paid down debt, more jobs were created in those eight years than any eight-year period in the history of the state of delaware. i did not create one of them. you hear a lot from governors, mayors, senators about the jobs they help create. we don't create any of them. we create a nurturing environment for job creation. there's a role for the federal government to play in that.
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we hear a lot about transportation policy, that's important. we trying to figure out how to reach the next generation of nuclear energy in a safe way. we work a lot here on water projects, trying to make sure, not just that we have clean drinking water to drink, and that's important, but also that we have beaches that have been replenished and channels that have been dredged and all that stuff. it all works together. as i think everybody in the room probably knows, eda supports economic development by providing federal funds to locally-driven projects. jim inhofe just tabbed one, i could talk about a number of them, as we'll hear in a moment, but projects that spur economic creation and job creation, and go. these investments can serve as a lifeline, especially in economically distressed or moribund communities like my native west virginia, senator capito knows what i'm talking
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about, she sees this every day. i've seen firsthand how these investments including those by eda support projects and create jobs in all of our states, all of our own states including my home state of delaware. this past september a couple of months ago, dr. fleming, you were good enough to come to open what we call the delaware innovation space in wilmington. dupont forever, for hundreds of years, was like the economic linchpin in delaware. tens of thousands of jobs. the governor of delaware in january of '93, 27,000 people went to work that day in dupont. today, 4,000. so the question is what do you do about that, how do we deal with that. and we had a lot of dupont employees who were let go. a lot of them had ph.d.s at the end of their name and all of a
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sudden they were out of a job. we created a space on the campus of the experimental station of dupont, it's a whole new creation of jobs. and we're excited about that. eda has played a very significant role in helping us to make sure that the innovation space is open for business, helping local entrepreneurs, including some former duponters, launch their startups, get their small businesses off the ground. down at the other end of our state is a place called georgetown. it's the county seat of sussex county, delaware. they raise more chickens than any county in america. i think they may raise more soybeans than any other county in america. they'll be home of a technical community college, owens campus, they were fortunate to receive $2 million from eda in a grant last year. this grant supplemented -- my
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remarks here, they supplemented almost $1.5 million in local investments. what it did was leveraged from auto dealers, from folks like perdue poultry and all these companies that have big trucks. we leveraged and put together close to $5.5 million to build what we call the automotive center of excellence. now georgetown will soon be home to the first auto technician and diesel mechanic training program, not just in sussex county, not just in delaware but in the whole peninsula. it's a win not just for sussex county. it's a win for every employer who needs folks like this. we can drive, in our home states, whether it's wyoming, west virginia, iowa, delaware, auto dealers today will tell us we need people who have these skills. there's a real shortage of them.
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but the center i'm describing will offer local students a tra opportunity to learn a trade. it will give them what they desperately need to succeed. i'm very pleased we received this assistance from eda for these projects and are grateful for the vote of confidence. we can see the real impacts of eda's investments in our communities. however as we near the release of the president's budget proposal for fiscal '20-'21 in the coming weeks, it's worth noting in the previous three proposals the trump administration proposed to eliminate eda funding. i fear eda will suffer a similar fate in the upcoming budget proposal. the eda has not been reauthorized since 2008. as we review the programs at eda, i believe we must examine how these programs can be improved and expanded to better
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assist disadvantaged communities, communities of color, indigenous communities as well. we also need to examine how eda can assist those communities that are most vulnerable to the effects of global climate crisis. senator inhofe talked about floods in oklahoma now occur every year. we have ellicott city, maryland, they got two 2,000-year floods within a year and a half of each other. in houston they had two 2,000-year floods within 18 months of each other. something is happening here. eda is a tool in our toolbox to make sure we're building more climate-resilient communities. regardless of changes in technology and automation, we have to make certain we support communities and workers in that transition. let me say that again. our country's economy is
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undergoing historic changes. regardless of changes in technology, automation, or to address climate change, we have to make sure we support communities and workers in that transition. the golden rule, treat other people the way we want to be treated. it was the coal miners in west virginia who are losing work, other places around the country, the jobs that provided a living for people forever are slowly going away. we need to treat those people as if they were our neighbors. as we make changes in national energy policy and industrial practices we need to both minimize impacts and provide assistance to communities and workers that are affected by these changes. i believe eda will be a key part of that effort too. mr. chairman, thanks again for pulling this together. dr. fleming, great to see you, thank you for coming to delaware and thank you for your leadership at eda. >> thank you very much, senator carper. dr. fleming, welcome back to the committee. i want to remind you, the entire full written testimony will be
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made part of the record. i'll ask you to please keep your statement to about five minutes, and then we'll have more time for questions. thank you and please proceed. >> chairman barrasso, ranking member carper, and members of the committee, it is a pleasure and a privilege to be here before you today to testify on behalf of the economic development administration in the department of commerce. eda welcomes this hearing as an opportunity to discuss the role of the department of commerce plays in supporting economic development in economically stressed areas of the country. my focus as assistant secretary for economic development has been on helping foster economic growth. we do this by leveraging private capital investments in economically distressed areas including in opportunity zones, harnessing innovation, assisting communities recover from natural disasters, assisting communities
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severely impacted by the declining use of coal and supporting community driven workforce development strategies. one of the administration's key areas of focus and one that eda is leading to support are opportunity zones which were created as a part of the tax cut as the agency whose principal role is to make investments in economic distressed communities to generate job, foster resiliency and celebrate long term growth, the opportunities initiative fits hand in glove with the eda's mission. nearly $352 million in 262 projects in or near opportunity zones across the u.s. including in many of your states. the program risks is another s distinct program and one we
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continue to strengthen and harness and enhance tech technological innovation across the country. risks grantees have supported over 8200 full-time jobs and helped raise over $1 billion in investment capital. we're also working to support the redevelopment of skills training facilities that address the hiring need offense the local and regional business communi community. more, in the manufacturing sector. these investment directly support the goals of the national council for the american worker established by presidential executive order to create our first ever national
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workhorse strategy which is co-chaired by secretary ross and presidential adviser ivanka trump. as you know in fy 2018 and fy 2019 our appropriators provided $1.2 billion in disaster supplemental funding. today eda has awarded 178 grants to communities across the countryimpacted by federally declared national disasters. since fy 2017 eda has invested more than $96 million in 99 projects to assist such communities and regions across the u.s. i would like to mention before i
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conclude that eda is working to launch newly funded initiatives in our fy 2020 appropriations. this includes the new event which will enable eda to continue to support more innovation focus, economic development by helping communities more directly develop, talent to meet the needs of industries of the future. eda will also deploy the $15 million in appropriation we receive to support communities impacted by nuclear closures. thank you for the opportunity to address some of eda's efforts to enhance the global competitiveness of america's regions through economic development. i look forward to answering any questions you may have. >> thanks so very much for your testimony and diligent work. i have a couple of questions.
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i know my colleagues do as well. your agency issued $1.4 million grant in wyoming through the economic development corporation. i'm pleased to see you're supporting a project cold to technology products. it can be many new markets for coal. the bill supports dedicated federal research and development of coal to products technology. how does your agency collaborate with other agencies and experts in identifying promising new technologies like coal but other technologies as well. >> i think i best answer that by giving you an example. we're currently concluding in
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mou with the department of energy that they're going to provi provide $2 million to our risk program that we will invest in innovative ways of dealing with blue energy, so called blue water energy. using wave motion and things of that sort. we're working collaboratively with our sister departments and agencies. it's a very competitive program looking for the best possible ideas in new technologies. >> the terms of building work force, they're key partners in building the work force. if you can explain how the economic development administration works with university centers and community colleges to address some of the challenge we have in work force
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development. >> that's a very exciting area. community colleges are engaging in trade skills whether it's advanced welding, instrumentation, brick laying, you name it. anything that requires skills. the reason is because these jobs go untaken and they're good paying jobs. these young adults don't have the tounts the get those skills anywhere else. they're building schedules are getting way behind. they get by disaster after
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disaster. there's not enough skilled folks in the region to do this. that's a very much growing area and we highly support that. >> how does your agency evaluate projects to determine if they are really a productive use of our taxpayers' money. >> great question. we fight way above our weight class when it comes to how we deploy funds. what i mean by that is we also have a section of our agency that measures at three, six and nine years. mainly our construction projects on how we're doing. it has to be proven to us that their jobs waiting to be had. if that's capital waiting to be deployed.
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as a result of that over the measurement of many years, we have seen for every single taxpayer dollar, $15. we have the stats in order to prove that. >> my final question since i'm here with my colleague from west virginia. we're both from coal states. do you intend to prioritize coal country projects? >> absolutely. i visited west virginia. we had great time.
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we strongly support that. >> i'm a native west virginian. one of my great, great, great grandfathers was one of the 15 co-founders. they're next door neighbor was a coal miner. i have a great deal of feeling and empathy toward the plight
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th they faced. thank you. when i think about economic development, i love economic development. if next year i got to run for state treasurer. nobody wants to run. when people ask me what i do, they say what do you do. i end up spending the next two hours talking about meeimpeachm or the affordable care act. >> wear headphones so you don't
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have to -- >> i work for the head of economic development for the state of delaware. i just love doing that. we're helping create the environment. it sta people who keep our new generation mode come -- but transportation systems and service transportation which we work on, access to capital, access to decision makers, common sense regulation. the tax burden is bearable. the list goes on and on and on. i want to talk a bit about the future. when you were a nominee before us and you reflected back on your time in the house of representatives, how many years did you serve? >> eight years.
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>> eight years. as a nominee, we all learn as we go along. i hope i'm smarter than i used to be. talktous about now that you've been at the helm for about a year. think back on your views and what you've seen and what you would like to share with folks who aren't really convinced that we need a robustly funded eda. >> preparing for the nomination i learned about eda than i ever knew.
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from our former life, i was involved in entrepreneurship. i was a developer and we always -- >> is there something you haven't done? pretty impressive. >> you nodeed to talk to my wif. she could probably tell you. as developers we're always interested in opm, other people's money. to me it takes a lot of sense for us, for the government to leverage the private sector to do what it does so well. that's invest private capital with a great return. not only a financial return but a social impact return on that investment. as i learn more about eda and the good work that it's done and really the excitement from both sides of the aisle about the work eda has done, i really felt
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unloved with eda and the work it does. >> the president will submit his budget in a couple of weeks, any idea if the president will propose to eliminate eda? >> my expectation of that is that will also be in his budget, the fourth year budget that elimination of eda. if you look at our scores that we have ha we have seen that lift and they were already pretty good any way. longevity, we have people that's been there 30, 40 years. really have not detected that problem. we just do our work every day. so far congress has been very generous to us.
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increasing our funding this year. that really gets us up every morning and doing the good work we do. >> a good demonstration is for eda. you and the folks that lead work. i can't say much leverage. it's incredibly important that we use this limited federal resource to leverage a whole lot more private sector. >> thank you. it's great to see you again. i appreciate your visit to west virginia on veterans day. you being a veteran yourself.
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we had a great day with some great announcements as you mentioned $7 million. the one we cut the ribbon on where we were in putnam county was an infrastructure project which really can leverage a lot of private investment but also help those local water entities and economic development and county authorities really get the job done in an area where they can't grow unless they can get this infrastructure. i'm pleased the pry yourization of eda has reprioritized to where it needs to be. these are the underserved areas where your options are non-ex t non-existent or very, very low. i think we see that in my state.
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obviously, the assistance to coal communities has been an enormous help to us. some of those areas have long time to be able to recover. let's talk a little bit, if we could, about infrastructure. where are you seeing when you set priorities. whether are you seeing the priorities. you could go anywhere. you could go infrastructure. you could go in coal communities, tech development, work force development. how do you set the priorities or is it project to project. >> you mean specific to coal? >> no, just in general. >> over the history the vast majority of our investment vs been in infrastructure. typically a water system, sanitation systems, 60% of our dollars go to rural area.
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our focus is on removing obstacles to private investment. one quick example is in mississippi. regions bank has a call center there and they wanted to expand it and invest tens of millions of dollars. they didn't want to take that risk unless the road was fixed so the community matched our investment of over a million tlars. now they're blowing and blowing in hiring people and these are good paying jobs. >> we know diversification is the key to success. there's still a lot of job growth and development that occur in the energy field. eda was in your november visit we announce d half a million
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dollar project to extend to coal mine which is 15 jobs, 450 existing jobs. how do you see that in terms of job development because we're much more energy independent in this country than we were even five to ten years ago? >> senator, i think you've already said it. diversification. when i came to congress in 2009, we were not exporting natural gas. today louisiana is one of the largest natural gas exporters in the world. as the marketplace moves and as
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we find newer forms of nnch or newer forms, we're always happen to evolve with that. we pay for consultants to come in and look at what's going on in your section of the country. what's happening with the economies in your local and how can we diversify that and get into whether other forms of energy, the same form or something else altogether different. we're working the is up fsupply too. >> lastly, in a hat tip, the last eda assistance to coal community.
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try to get creative minds to create small businesses, how do you do it. you're working with beckley and also the arc which has dollars to go along with the private dollar investment. it's also located in a designated opportunity zone. proud to say that's legislation i was on the fore front of and i think has great potential for eda to match investments in opportunity zones to help. going back to those communities that really the options are so limited that without the quick from eda in an opportunity zone could further development. sorry i went so far over but thank you. >> turning to senator whitehouse. unanimous con sent to enter four
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letters in support of the eda's ongoing work in wyoming. without objection, they are submitted. >> can i say a follow up? >> my wife and i went on tour to west virginia, kentucky, south carolina, just great fun. got to see all of our cousins. >> we're all related. >> we really are. work on a project in the church. he said you're united states senator, aren't you? wow, i had my gym clothes on. he said we're very proud of you. i said i'm not senator mansion. he said, which one are you.
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i said i'm shelly capato. i straightened out the record before i lettft. >> senator whitehouse. >> welcome, director fleming. as you know i voted for your confirmation in support of you and on occasion i've had some regret about people who i've voted for but in your case i came to say thank you and to express my appreciation for the work you're doing. in rhode island we get things done by working together. public, private partnerships, partnerships across municipal state, federal, all sorts of different parties coming together. as you also know when that's your process, things can tame some time.
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we have a port that's had very considerable rebuild thanks to eda support and that has made it an attraction for other fishing boats that had not come there before to now come there because the facilities are top quality. that's been very helpful for our fishing community. having that extra business has been essential to that industry fishing eco system. that's been very helpful. it's meant a lot to have eda
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there. eda was there and very patient with working through with us to make sure things got done and got done right. the area which feels over looked by providence and upstate and everybody else. because there was so many parties involved in it, the project ran into some difficulties. there was a moment when eda has a moment to bail or hang in there? my office gave strong assurances the project would work and be worth it at the end of the day. eda made the choice to hang in
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there. all the pieces have come together. the innovation center is up and running. it's filled with business interests and folks who are trying to lead the innovation agenda in that area. you didn't have to hang in there with us. you trusted us that we could get this done. we did, in fact, turned into a real victory for eda and for the local community. i'm just here to express my appreciation for a number of very good stories and for the patients and the determination and the toleration of your regional director and your area director with us through all of this. it's been a terrific partnership and i appreciate it. >> sure. thank you. >> if i could respond to that. >> please do.
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>> i'm going to have to run though. thank you for your words of support. that's one of the things i like about eda is the ability to be flexible with these situations that arise. thank you. >> i have a series of questions to ask. they're not yes or no. you can give short answers. congress authorized about one quarter billion dollars in disaster supplemental funding. the question any idea these funds are being built to build or rebuild infrastructure that's more resilient. able to withstand climate
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crisis? >> yes, we're well into that $1.2 billion. it was for fiscal year 18 and 19 for disaster 17 through 19. we're $471 million into the first traun ch. rebuild structures and because of our mandate to add resiliency to this. so with the next hurricane or the next earthquake or the next fire -- >> the next thousands year flood, next year. >> flood, of course. absolutely. we want to make sure we don't have to go back and rebuild or if it's down, it's down for a very short period of time and can be brought back up very rapidly. >> thank you.
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>> would you please share with us what the current staffing levels are roughly and how they compare to staffing levels at the end of the last administration. >> right. thank you for that question. eda is not had supplemental disaster funding for a number of years until fy 2018. we had $587 million for deployment. we had to gear up which meant hiring term employees, engineers and so forth. we had several challenges. we have to compete with the private sector. number two we have the steps that you have to go through with federal hiring and we don't have the sort of hiring authority, emergency hiring authority that fema has.
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we have managed to get the job done. >> i was talking to my staff a few minutes ago about the authorization. next time we do that, is that something we should take into consideration? >> absolutely. absolutely. we could gear up a lot faster. these are term employees which means it's not a permanent job and that's another challenge. some people won't work that way. now that we have closed the gap so we're really up and going now. we have these term employees available for the next fiscal year which we have already begun. it's going. the ramp up here could be faster if we had that special authority. >> thanks. a bit on the opportunity zones.
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it's been mentioned by several. i understand that eda is giving preference to applicants and opportunity zones. have a leg up with private investors. in some cases impoverrished areas that weren't designated as opportunity zones are losing out. could you take a minute and explain how the eda is ensuring it's a preference given to opportunity zones including
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zones that don't meet eda's economic criteria, does not put distressed communities at a greater disadvantage. >> let me say you heard me talk about the 15-1 ratio of private i vestment to every dollar that we invest. we feel that could dramatically increase. the force multiplier effect, coming along side opportunity zone tax references could really empower the work that we do and the work of entrepreneurs as well as philanthopists and
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others. we see that as important. as far as the criteria t correct we accept all applications but not grant them if they're opportunity zone applications. it's one of our five specific criteria for our priorities, if you will, for investment. however, we have been investing, as you heard me say in my opening remarks since 2018. almost $400 million in or around opportunity zones. just based on the fact that they were areas of distressed, not because they were opportunity zones but most had not been theired yet. i will say there are special criteria set forth in statute such that there has to be 20% poverty rate and from that the government themselves selected the census tracks. we try to be mindful of any potential for investment in areas that really don't need our help.
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remember, it's still a competitive process and we're going to go where the need is the greatest. >> all right. thank you so much. senator gillibrand, you're right on time. >> thank you. mr. secretary, thank you for your testimony today. i want to take time to discuss the economic development administration's role in disaster recovery. we continue to see devastating extreme weather events across the country whether it's fires raging, hurricanes and earthquakes ravaging puerto rico or flooding in my home state of new york. does the eda see the unrelentsing effects of climate change as a hurdle to help communities recover stronger? >> thank you, senator. eda's focus is on resiliency since 2015. if we have to rebuild something
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it could with stand the next natural occurrence, next event that may come that way. i'm not a climbtologist, we don't have any on our staff. i don't claim any expertise in that area. we stand ready to deal with any sort of weather event of other disaster that may come our way. >> the eda receives $600 million in additional funds. the eda disburses pre-disaster grants as well as post-disaster grants. how does the eda prioritize pre-disaster grants versus post-disaster recovery grants? >> i'll need to take that question for the record.
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i'm not in a position to make that distingction today but woud love the research and anl iealy and get back to you. >> okay. in 2017 after being hit by an economic disaster, puerto rico was devastated by hurricane maria. at the end of 2019 the island was struck by disaster in the form of multiple earthquakes. how the eda prioritize funding to ensure the fellow citizens receive relief as well as resiliency resources to rebuild
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effectively and quickly. >> i'm glad you asked that question because a lot of times there can be a little bit of confusion about whether we fit into the whole disaster recovery scheme. we're not first responders. we were not appropriated funds until well into 2018. weobligated $57 million to puerto rico. >> when will the money be spent in. >> it's up to the people o on the ground there in puerto rico.
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we make it available to them. while we have an economic development representative there. he lives in puerto rico. he's a native puerto rican. we rely on our partners there. >> have you identified any impediments to having the money being spent? is it a matching requirement or any other structural impedement that's resulted in the money not being spent? >> we find the biggest challenge is the fact the level of expertise, the level of capability is less than what we see in other areas. >> i would imagine since the islands have been hit so hard and they've had such a loss of
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populati population, as a result, people are going where they can have a home and a school and running water and electricity. they really have been levering the islands. >> you're quite correct on that. i will add part of what we do is provide grants for technical assistance. we're always willing to pay to have experts and consultants come in and come on the ground and give their guidance. >> last, is there a deadline for that money if it's not spent when it would be called back in. >> there's not an absolute deadline. the only time we may capture it in some other way is when it appears the project won't come about. if it's needing assistance to write applications for technical assistance, our office is happy to support that. i'd love to work with you to
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make sure we really start investing in puerto rico's recovery as well as resiliency building. >> absolutely. we'd be happy to work with you and your staff. >> thank you very much. >> thank you very much. the record will remain open for two weeks. you may get some questions. if you do, respond in writing. i want to thank you for your time and testimony. thank you very much. the hearing is adjourned.
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victory is not winning for our party. victory is winning for our country.
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on wednesday, fbi director christopher wray testifies at an oversight hearing before the house judiciary committee. watch live at 10:00 a.m. eastern on cspan3. during this election season the candidates beyond the talking points are only revealed over time. since you can't be everywhere, there's c-span. our 2020 programming differs from all other political coverage for one simple reason.
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it's c-span. we brought you your unfiltered view of government every day since 1979. in other words, your future. this election season go deep, direct and unfiltered. see the biggest picture for yourself and make up your own mind. up next, a joint hearing on wildfires and their affect on the environment and energy infrastructure. we'll hear from representatives of utility companies as well as fire research and forestry analysts.


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