FRANKFORT — A western Kentucky lawmaker has introduced legislation intended to ensure small business growth, job creation and economic development in rural and underdeveloped opportunity zone communities.

According to its sponsor, Rep. Richard Heath, R-Mayfield, the Kentucky Rural Jobs Act — House Bill 273 — would promote retention and expansion of existing jobs, stimulate creation of additional, high wage jobs through business growth, and attract new businesses and industry to the state.

“Small businesses, particularly those in rural and distressed communities, are finding it difficult to secure the capital they need to expand and create new jobs for local residents,” he said. “The Kentucky Rural Jobs Act, by facilitating access to capital for these businesses, encourages job creation, business expansion and economic development where it is needed most. This program is a fair and sustainable way to ensure economic opportunity for people and communities across Kentucky.”

He says rural and opportunity zone growth funds would help businesses make improvement or investments needed to expand, grow high paying jobs and strengthen their local communities, in rural counties and those that have experienced continual underemployment.

In Cynthiana, truck manufacturer E-Z Pack, part of Commercial Speciality Truck Holdings, utilized a similar tax-incentivized program to help the company secure the capital it needed to turn around the struggling business, and now employs more than 250.

“Programs like the Kentucky Rural Jobs Act are greatly important to small town USA,” said company CEO Frank Busicchia. “Places like Cynthiana and other rural areas of the state find it hard to build companies and grow jobs without this type of support.”

According to Heath, his bill prioritizes the creation and retention of jobs in important growth industries and rural and underdeveloped opportunity zone communities, driving Kentucky’s economic growth forward and ensuring opportunity for every Kentuckian.

The Kentucky Rural Jobs Act also contains important best practices and safeguards to protect the state and taxpayers, including an independent economic impact analysis that demonstrates a positive return on investment for the state, along with job creation requirements.

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