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Growing the Rural Economy

All Arkansans should have the opportunity to succeed.

Yet, in this new economy, rural Arkansas is in danger of being left behind. Economic gains are not being evenly distributed; benefits and profits are not being evenly dispersed. At least 1 in 4 households in the First District live in poverty, with even higher rates for African American households and rural households. Rural communities in Arkansas are facing wage stagnation, population decline, and the loss of jobs.

The structure of the Arkansan economy has shifted. While agriculture and manufacturing remain vital to Arkansas’s economy, the service sector has gained a large share of employment across the state. Arkansas needs policies to strengthen the agriculture and manufacturing sectors while adapting to these new conditions. These policies include:

  • Increasing federal investment in critical infrastructure.

  • Promoting digital literacy programs and expand access to broadband in rural communities.

  • Securing federal block grants for investments in rural services and development.

  • Investing in job training, certification, and licensing so that all Arkansans have the skills to stay competitive in the job market.

  • Expanding and protecting the Earned Income Tax Credit that benefits hard-working Arkansan families and which lowers dependence on public assistance.

  • Removing regulatory impediments and lowering the barriers for entry for small businesses.

We must also do more to support working families by restoring workers' rights to bargain for better wages, benefits, and working conditions. Collective bargaining leads to higher wages, better benefits, and more secure retirements for working Arkansan families. As Congressman, I would vote to enact the Workplace Democracy Act, which would restore the rights of working families to organize and fight for a more fair economy.

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