Letter To Sander Levin, Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee and David Lee 'Dave' Camp, Ranking Member of the House Ways and Means Committee

Congressman Steve Cohen (TN-9) recently issued a letter to House Committee on Ways and Means Chairman Sander Levin and Ranking Member Dave Camp urging them to "include a two year renewal of tax incentives for empowerment zones (EZs), renewal communities (RCs), and enterprise communities (ECs) in any upcoming legislation to extend expiring tax measures." Memphis is a renewal community.

Congressman Cohen was joined on his letter by Representatives Solomon Ortiz, Bob Filner, Marcia Fudge, Gwen Moore, Niki Tsongas, Gregory Meeks, Rueben Hinojosa, Dutch Ruppersberger, and John Barrow.

Dear Chairman Levin and Ranking Member Camp,

I am writing to ask that you include a two year renewal of tax incentives for empowerment zones (EZs), renewal communities (RCs), and enterprise communities (ECs) in any upcoming legislation to extend expiring tax measures.

As you know, empowerment zones and renewal communities were developed by Congress to target distressed communities with high poverty and unemployment, and use a combination of tools to begin to reverse the decades of neglect in these communities. There have been three separate rounds (1993, 1997, and 2000) in which Congress has authorized the designation of empowerment zones, designed to spur employment and economic revitalization in these communities. The EZ, RC, EC incentives expired on December 31, 2009, and the House of Representatives has previously passed legislation to extend the tax incentives on December 7, 2009.

By definition, the zones and communities covered by the tax incentives suffer from high rates of poverty and unemployment. The underlying goals of the EZ/RC/EC programs are to address poverty and unemployment while promoting economic opportunity in historically challenged areas. These communities have had access to tax incentives that encourage entrepreneurs to invest in their local economies, open and expand small businesses, and hire tens of thousands of local residents.

The empowerment zones and renewal communities are a strong part of addressing poverty, unemployment and creating opportunity in areas hardest hit by economic adversity. These programs have been successful in addressing the decades of underinvestment in urban and rural areas and need to be renewed.

I urge you to include a two year renewal of tax incentives, which would promptly help provide a strong stimulus for our economy while preserving the jobs and economic development work of these existing zones and communities.