Rural Jobs Legislation Introduced
Rep. Bill Poole, R-Tuscaloosa, has introduced legislation aimed at closing the economic prosperity gap between Alabama’s cities and rural areas by providing tax incentives for job creation.
HB 540, or the Alabama Incentives Modernization Act, would enhance the existing Alabama Jobs Act by expanding investment credits to rural projects creating at least 10 new jobs. The bill also extends Job Act credits and includes provisions specifically targeting the creation of high-tech jobs.
“While Alabama’s incentive programs have succeeded in growing industry in the more populated parts of the State, Alabama’s rural communities have not enjoyed the same rates of success,” the bill states. “Alabama’s incentives grew out of a need to attract heavy industry to the state. Now, Alabama must also prepare for the future by attracting and retaining high-tech companies and preparing and retaining a workforce trained for such jobs. New tools must be brought to bear to solve Alabama’s rural and high-tech deficits.”
The Alabama Farmers Federation’s Matthew Durdin said the legislation would encourage investment in rural communities.
“We appreciate Rep. Poole and the legislative leadership recognizing the economic challenges in rural Alabama,” said Durdin, director of the External Affairs Department. “The Rebuild Alabama Infrastructure Plan and efforts to expand rural broadband will help address infrastructure problems in less populated areas. HB 540 would work in concert with those measures by providing incentives for investment in job creation.”
The bill provides incentives to offset income, premium, utility and financial institution excise taxes. It also would expand the Opportunity Zone program and provide for the reduction of capital gains taxes for investment in those areas. Another provision would enhance the Growing Alabama Credits program to create funding mechanisms for industrial parks, business accelerators and agricultural parks.
“The Alabama Farmers Agriculture Foundation and Alabama Farmers Federation have committed to building the Alabama Farm Center on a 500-acre parcel in Chilton County,” Durdin said. “It will be the South’s premier multi-function agricultural facility, creating an estimated 300-400 new jobs and $40-$55 million in annual economic impact. HB 540 would encourage investment in the Alabama Farm Center by economic development organizations, companies, utilities and others.”
HB 540 includes accountability provisions such as limits on the amount of tax credits available and oversight through the Department of Commerce and Renewal of Alabama Commission. The bill has been assigned to the House Ways and Means Education Committee, which Poole chairs.