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Oakland80 – Oakland County’s Education Attainment Goal

Problem

In 2018, Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer announced the State’s 60 by 30 initiative – a robust goal to ensure 60% of working-age Michiganders have a professional certificate or college degree by 2030. Currently, Michigan ranks 37th nationally for education attainment with significant gaps by race, ethnicity and income. Oakland County, an economic driver for the state, boasts a 61% education attainment rate. However, significant barriers and inequities remain for residents across key communities, limiting access to post-secondary education. Personal barriers, including childcare, transportation, student debt, and a lack of career awareness, result in challenges to accessing and completing post-secondary education. Enrollment, completion, credentials/certified earned, and high school graduation rates must increase to achieve Michigan’s 60 by 30 goal and Oakland County’s local goal of 80% attainment by 2030. Increased educational attainment will lead to economic self-sufficiency, income equality and economic growth for Oakland County’s 1.3 million residents and 40,000 businesses.

 

Solution

Oakland County is the first county to set a local post-secondary education attainment goal in the state. Oakland80 is focused on creating solutions under six key pillars:

  1. K-12 Graduation Rates
  2. Net Migration
  3. Post-Secondary Enrollment
  4. Post-Secondary Completion
  5. Adults with Some College, No Degree
  6. Industry Recognized Credentials/Certificates

For each of these pillars, Oakland80 focuses on customized and personal barrier removal, accessible career and education navigation, and financial support to accessing education. Oakland80 is utilizing data to understand target populations, key communities of focus, and identifying gaps in the access to post-secondary education. Our team has a personal commitment to “meet people where they are” through the deployment of Oakland80 Career Navigators across the County, equipped with financial resources and partnerships to help individuals overcome any barriers interfering with their ability to enroll and complete post-secondary education.

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CommUNITY Response Teams

Problem

Chester County experienced immeasurable loss during the pandemic, including more than 800 lives and hundreds of businesses. In order to get back to where we were, and ideally have a better economy than we had previously, we need to include all corners of our community to develop long-term, forward thinking solutions that will establish our County as a driver of economic growth during the next 10 years.

 

Solution

Chester County has embarked on a mission to use the American Rescue Plan Act funds to rebuild our community.  A critical part of the process is to include members of the public as part of the evaluation teams that will prioritize and review proposals that would most effectively spend-down the funding.  Seven evaluation teams will be established by Chester County to address each priority area for ARPA funding.  Each team will include representatives from Chester County Government’s finance department, solicitor’s office and strategic planning team, who will facilitate the priority groups. Three county employee volunteers and four volunteers from the community will complete each team.  Members that will help direct the ARPA funds represent a cross section of people covering all ages, genders, socio-economic and geographical areas of the county. This approach helps ensure the difficult questions are asked of proposals, leading to increased results and outcomes.

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Addressing the impacts of the cliff effect in Massachusetts

Problem

We know people are working harder and harder but not getting ahead. This problem is particularly salient for our large numbers of low-wage workers depending on public assistance to make ends meet. The Department of Transitional Assistance serves one out of every nine people in Massachusetts with cash benefits and food assistance, but the structure of these programs means that in many cases, benefits are actually contributing to prolonged financial instability. Specifically, eligibility for public benefits has an inverse relationship to income level, which often puts recipients in an impossible position: earning more money can make them worse off if it boosts their income enough to make them ineligible for these benefits. This drop in public benefits that occurs as earnings increase is known as the “cliff effect,” and it explains why some low-wage workers find themselves worse off after a raise. 

 

Solution

We need to offset the disproportionate impact that the cliff effect has on families transitioning out of public assistance and allow them to transition off of benefits without facing an income cliff. My bill, S.119, begins to address this by creating a 3-year pilot program for 100 low-income Western Massachusetts families or individuals who are both working and receiving public assistance. Participants will receive a Massachusetts Earned Income Tax Credit adjustment that rewards work and closes the cliff effect gap during each year of the 3-year program. This bill also includes a savings component of up to $10,000 per participant that would be paid out after the third year of the program. The pilot will test whether the Massachusetts Earned Income Tax Credit can be enhanced to create an effective tool for the state to close the cliff gap in order to ensure that workers are not worse off financially as they move up the income scale.

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Secure Tokens for State Financial Offerings

Problem

 General obligation bonds are prohibited under the Colorado Constitution without voter pre-approval. As a result, capital financing has principally been done through tax or revenue anticipation notes or certificates of participation (COPs). Tax or revenue anticipation notes are used to help cash flow of the General Fund or local school districts, but they are repaid within the same fiscal year. The State of Colorado uses COPs to finance construction of new facilities. These COPs are typically offered to lessors who assign their interests to commercial banks, mutual or pension funds, and PERA to own the property, collect lease and interest payments from the state, and make payments to investors. This method of securing state debts limits the number of businesses and organizations that can invest in the state and assist in financing capital projects.

 

Solution

In order to reduce the dependence on commercial banks, institutional investors, mutual funds, and pension funds, COPs could be funded by millions of individual investors through the use of secure tokens. The introduction of a policy that sets up a plan for secure tokens to be used to finance COPs would greatly expand the number of potential investors and decrease the interest rate that the state would owe on its principal loan as a result of direct purchases by retail investors. Instead of the state using investment banks that charge high fees to underwrite new COP offerings, Colorado would be able to issue secure token offerings (STOs).  This approach would likely lower interest rates compared to traditional COP financing methods and the citizens of Colorado could share in the ownership of new capital assets until the state has paid back the principal and interest to each investor.

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Maryland Access to Capital Program

Problem

 Lending to small businesses has decreased in recent years. Part of the problem is that small businesses without substantial/ solid credit have few options for loans. The same goes for those without adequate collateral or a relationship with a bank. This disproportionately disadvantages low-income residents, immigrants, business owners of color, residents in reentry, etc. Financial exclusion of resource-restricted populations in Marylander is a problem.

Another part of the problem is that non-traditional financial institutions in the business of making loans to these populations face high borrowing costs themselves, minimal incentives to make these loans, and little to no coverage on loan defaults.

Small businesses have been hit extremely hard by the pandemic as they have worked to adapt to a remote environment, comply with pandemic-related requirements, etc. Absent access to credit, small businesses cannot succeed and scale. Job growth and wealth creation are stifled, especially in historically disinvested neighborhoods.

 

Solution

The Maryland Capital Access Program (MDCAP) encourages banks and other financial institutions to make loans to small businesses – especially those that have been unable to or have had difficulty obtaining loans in the past. MDCAP creates a loan loss reserve program, managed by the Department of Commerce, for financial institutions making qualified loans. Each time a qualifying loan is made to a small business, a percentage of the loan amount is deposited into the loan loss reserve account by the lender, the borrower, AND the State.

The loan loss reserve account mitigates risk loss to a qualifying lender and gives lenders the confidence to be more flexible on collateral and credit requirements. Further, particularly for CDFIs, the loan loss reserve account can decrease the cost of borrowing money. The program motivates lenders to bank a wider band of businesses with the assurance that losses can be recovered from the loan loss reserve account.

This program was the result of legislation sponsored by Maryland Delegate Brooke Lierman and co-filed by Maryland Senator Katie Fry Hester.

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Lansing Built to Last

Problem

 Lansing Built to Last was a local startup competition held in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. We realized that in order for our community to thrive, businesses must have a strategy in place and be prepared to make it through the toughest of times.

 

Solution

The competition invited all entrepreneurs and idea-makers to submit their emergency-resistant business proposals for the opportunity to win a year’s worth of services to help launch their business. Ideas had to require a physical space downtown, withstand emergency circumstances, and enhance the community that surrounds it.

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Jump-starting Rural Businesses and Economies

Problem

 Economic recovery and prosperity in Colorado is too often concentrated in the metro areas of the state. In Colorado, the pandemic hit rural Colorado particularly hard and for many rural communities, the economic recovery has been much slower than the recovery in other parts of the state. As we build back from this pandemic, we need to invest in programs that will ensure all parts of our state, particularly our many rural communities, have the tools they need to attract new businesses, create good-paying jobs, and diversify their economy. Building back better needs to mean better for all parts of our state, not just the big cities and suburbs. This is not a problem confined solely to Colorado as most states also have a division between the more metro areas and the rural parts of their state. 

 

Solution

States should invest in the Rural Jump-Start Small Businesses Tax Credit and Incentive Program.

The Rural Jump-Start Program helps economically distressed communities attract new businesses and jobs. Counties, municipalities, and higher education institutions work together to apply for this program.

When a community is a designated rural jump-start zone, new businesses can receive incentive payments and tax relief including credits, exemptions, and refunds from:
state income tax, state sales and use tax, county and municipal personal property taxes.

Employees of new businesses receive a grant for starting a new business and a tax credit for 100% of state income taxes on their wages for work in the rural jump-start zone.

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Innovation Alabama State Matching Funds Award

Problem

 In the State of Alabama, historically there have not been incentives of any kind for startup companies to be attracted to bring their business to the State. The problem was when dealing with STTR and SBIR matching funds, technology startups typically go to the federal level to receive these funds and there are no matching funds that aid them on the State level. In Alabama, when you receive the federal funding that’s all you are eligible to receive. However, in other states there exists a program to match the funds received at the federal level with state funds, creating more of an incentive for businesses to startup in other surrounding states. Through the Innovation Creation Commission created by the Governor of Alabama, I was able to bring HB 609, a bill that would provide matching funds for startups as a means to ensure more businesses stay in the state. 

 

Solution

The solution is simple: ensure that the State of Alabama is able to market itself to viable startups and business, by allowing tech companies to receive additional funding, in this case, up to $100k on the first phase and $250k on the second phase in matching grants.

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Infrastructure Development Account

Problem

 Illinois infrastructure, like many states across the country, has a long list of infrastructure needs. 

Solution

The Infrastructure Development Account (IDA) allows the State Treasurer to invest up to 5% of the State Portfolio in Illinois infrastructure development projects with Illinois infrastructure development firms. The State will be able to provide development capital to revenue-producing projects that will benefit Illinois citizens while strengthening the State Investment Portfolio.

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Establishing a Public Bank in the City of Philadelphia

Problem

As we work to rebound from the devastating effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, we are also seeing with fresh eyes some of the longstanding inequities and disparities exacerbated by this global public health crisis. Equitable economic opportunities and access to capital for many small businesses, particularly minority- and women-owned businesses, are issues that spun out of decades of redlining and systemic racism. Black and Brown neighborhoods in Philadelphia, the poorest of the 10 largest U.S. cities, continue to see increasing levels of poverty and homelessness as a result of lack of equal access to job and entrepreneurial opportunities. Currently, despite Philadelphia having a population that is 43% African American, only 6% of the businesses with employees in the city are Black-owned.

Solution

Creating a municipally owned bank in the City of Philadelphia would enhance the ability of many small businesses and entrepreneurs of color, as well as other grassroots and community organizations to obtain access to capital, establish a lending history, and gain a foothold in generating long-term wealth when existing lenders might otherwise deem them “hard to lend to” or “credit unworthy”.