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Many of us are keeping an eye on tax reform legislation and considering how federal changes could impact our livelihoods here at home. I want to help make Montanans aware of one federal program that has been working under the radar for the past 10 years to improve local economies, create good jobs and stimulate growth in large and small communities across our state. The tax bill’s proposed repeal of this program would deprive our communities — and the hardworking people who live here — of crucial funds needed to revitalize and bolster Montana’s economy.

If you’ve ever sought medical care at the Bullhook Community Health Center in Havre, seen a film at the Cinemark Theater in Helena, toured the historic Sears Building in Uptown Butte, shopped for groceries at Town & Country Foods in Bozeman, attended a swim meet at Mission Valley Aquatics in Polson, stayed at the Home2 Suites in Billings or picked up food from the new Missoula Food Bank, you have seen the direct impact of New Markets Tax Credits (NMTC), a federal program that incentivizes investment and economic growth in low-income urban and rural communities.

Since 2008, Montana & Idaho Community Development Corporation has used this program to support the development of 23 catalytic projects in Montana, totaling over $270 million. They range from nonprofits and community facilities to commercial and mixed-use buildings, hotels and community health centers. The projects have created and retained nearly 2,000 jobs, provided vital resources to the people who need them most, and generated development in economically underserved areas. None of these projects would have been possible without the financing provided by New Markets Tax Credits.

NMTC is not a partisan program; rather, it’s one of those rare federal programs that has been supported by Presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama. The current legislation has received strong, bipartisan backing among House and Senate lawmakers, including U.S. Sens. Jon Tester and Steve Daines, who have both co-sponsored legislation multiple times to make the tax credit permanent. However, the current tax bill has omitted this program entirely.

Whatever the broad benefits of tax reform to the economy, Montanans will continue to need access to flexible capital to promote revitalization and foster economic growth in our rural state. The NMTC is the most cost-efficient way to deliver this financing; in fact, the repeal of NMTC represents a savings of just a tenth of a percent of the $1.5 trillion in the current tax plan.

New Markets Tax Credits are a powerful tool that allows us to redirect federal tax dollars back into our Montana communities – generating jobs, financing businesses and community facilities and boosting local economies. This repeal is a serious misstep that would be felt by communities across our state.

Please act now by contacting Congressman Greg Gianforte (202-225-3211) and telling him to fight to keep NMTC in the tax code to help ensure a thriving and inclusive economy in Montana. Please also call Senator Tester (202-224-2644) and Senator Daines (202-224-2651) to ask them to include NMTC in the Senate bill.

Dave Glaser is president of Montana and Idaho Community Development Corporation, which has offices in Missoula, Bozeman and Boise.

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