Home Reauthorization of commission in Southeast U.S. would provide necessary flexibilities of support
US & World

Reauthorization of commission in Southeast U.S. would provide necessary flexibilities of support

Rebecca Barnabi
(© Tierney – stock.adobe.com)

The Southeastern Crescent Regional Commission (SCRC) is an economic development partnership agency of the federal government and seven state governments.

The commission’s mission is to build sustainable communities and strengthen economic growth across the Southeast Region, and the Southeastern Crescent Economic Empowerment Act reauthorizes the commission and provides needed flexibilities that will increase its ability to support various local and rural communities.

U.S Reps. Jennifer McClellan of Virginia, Don Davis of North Carolina and Nancy Mace of South Carolina introduced bipartisan legislation to increase distressed communities’ economic future and outlook across the Southeastern United States.

“The Southeast Crescent Regional Commission helps promote job creation and spur economic development in our Commonwealth and throughout the Southeast Region,” McClellan said. “Since coming to Congress, I have led several efforts to enhance the Commission to address systemic, persistent poverty throughout the region, create new jobs and opportunities for economic mobility, and improve the quality of life of hardworking people throughout the region. I am proud to help lead introduction of the Southeastern Crescent Economic Empowerment Act to further strengthen the Commission and ensure historically underserved communities have access to the resources and support they need to thrive.”

Davis said that families in eastern North Carolina need more opportunities to succeed and thrive.

“The bipartisan Southeastern Crescent Economic Empowerment Act empowers the Southeastern Crescent Regional Commission (SCRC) to continue doing the incredible work it has been doing. This legislation equips the SCRC to support better regions throughout the southeast, such as eastern North Carolina, which need increased economic, infrastructure, and health care development. The SCRC will provide families and rural communities with a better and brighter future through expanded grants and improved funding,” Davis said.

According to Mace, prioritizing job growth and advancement of economic progress in local communities is vital.

“The Southeastern Crescent Economic Empowerment Act represents a critical effort toward creating new avenues for employment, fostering economic mobility and improving the overall quality of life for hardworking Americans. Every person deserves the ability to work and make an honest living. We remain committed to ensuring our communities have access to the essential resources and support they need,” Mace said.

Key provisions of the Southeastern Crescent Economic Empowerment Act include:

  • Reauthorization of the Southeastern Crescent Regional Commission: The legislation reauthorizes the SCRC through 2032 while also increasing the authorization of funds from $33 million to $50 million from fiscal years 2024 through 2027 and $60 million from fiscal years 2028 through 2032.
  • State Capacity Building Grants and Economic and Infrastructure Development Grants: The act allows the SCRC to offer state capacity-building grants to its commission states for business retention and expansion, job creation, and workforce development. It adds housing and infrastructure development as a piece of these grants to support the goal of economic development better.
  • Modification of Matching Funds Requirement: The bill lowers the match requirement burden on rural and local communities so that the SCRC can better support these economically distressed areas.
  • Retention of Fees for the J-1 Visa Waiver Program: Allows the SCRC to attract and retain qualified medical professionals to serve in communities that lack a robust health care workforce.

Established in the 2008 U.S. Farm Bill, university researchers working on rural development issues introduced the concept of the commission at Tuskegee University’s Annual Professional Agricultural Worker’s Conference for 1862 and 1890 Land-Grant Universities in 1990. On December 8, 2021, the U.S. Senate confirmed the SCRC’s first Federal Co-Chair, Dr. Jennifer Clyburn Reed, allowing the SCRC to convene and begin other activities to serve the seven-state region.

“The Southeast Crescent Regional Commission is poised to make significant progress toward meeting its primary goal to support economic development throughout the 7-state region by investing in local and state efforts to create jobs and build communities. Since becoming active in 2022, SCRC has launched its inaugural grant program and processed 363 pre-applications from all participating states. The Southeast Crescent region is excited about the opportunities this investment will provide. This bi-partisan reauthorization will ensure the improvements outlined in the 5-year Strategic Plan and State economic development plans to create jobs and expand opportunities for our 51 million residents come to fruition,” Reed said.

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca J. Barnabi is the national editor of Augusta Free Press. A graduate of the University of Mary Washington, she began her journalism career at The Fredericksburg Free-Lance Star. In 2013, she was awarded first place for feature writing in the Maryland, Delaware, District of Columbia Awards Program, and was honored by the Virginia School Boards Association’s 2019 Media Honor Roll Program for her coverage of Waynesboro Schools. Her background in newspapers includes writing about features, local government, education and the arts.