With unemployment still near 11 percent in Rhode Island, job creation remains my number one priority in the U.S. Senate. I know too many families in our state are hurting. I’ve heard from so many Rhode Islanders about how this tough economy has affected them: families struggling to keep their homes, unemployed workers struggling to find that next job, and small businesses who need to hire more workers but just aren’t sure they can afford it. I hear you loud and clear, and I am fighting hard in the Senate to pass legislation that can help businesses hire more workers and put our economy back on track.
Earlier this year I introduced legislation to end an unfair tax policy that actually rewards companies who send jobs overseas. We need to keep good jobs here at home, not waste money sending them overseas, so I’ll keep fighting to get that done. I’m also working to support tourism jobs, create new jobs in the clean energy industry, and help Rhode Island’s traditional strengths, like our textile and marine sectors, grow and flourish.
Many businesses are right on the verge of hiring more workers, but are still worried about the direction of our economy and whether they can safely afford those new paychecks. That’s the story I heard recently when I visited TEDCO Inc., a manufacturing business in Cranston which was forced to lay off workers during the recession. TEDCO’s management team told me that they have wanted to hire for months, but keep wondering “what if?” What if business slows down again? What if the economy takes another turn for the worse?
I heard a similar story during a recent meeting with business owners hosted in Providence by the Rhode Island Manufacturing Extension Service. During our roundtable discussion I heard about how these entrepreneurs are working to build their companies and create jobs, but this slow, fragile recovery has yet to instill the confidence needed to ramp up hiring. I heard how a little assistance might make the difference between hiring more employees and not.
In order to help Rhode Island businesses get past that final hurdle to start creating jobs, I recently introduced the Job Creation Tax Credit Act in the Senate. By providing refundable tax credits to businesses who hire new workers in 2011 and 2012, this bill would provide greater security to businesses seeking to expand. As Dona Vincent from TEDCO said, this legislation would “provide the return on investment” needed to grow her company.
One great way to grow jobs is to invest in American infrastructure. Rhode Island needs old roads, bridges, and water treatment plants repaired, and modern infrastructure like high speed rail, efficient ports, and electronic health record exchanges. I’m working with Senate leaders to bring offshored corporate profits home, to make these investments in our nation’s future that can hit home in Rhode Island.
Times are tough, and there is no single solution to the challenges we face, but we have to stay focused on businesses and unemployed Rhode Islanders. We must continue fighting to create jobs and stabilize our economy. If we do so, I’m confident we can restore our state to prosperity and ensure a brighter future for our children.
Sheldon Whitehouse is the junior U.S. Senator for Rhode Island. More information about his efforts to create jobs is available at www.whitehouse.senate.gov/RIJobs.