Chris Paddie

Chris Paddie

Texas is a massive state, booming with opportunities.

To ensure the state’s rural communities have their chance to flourish, State Rep. Chris Paddie, R-Marshall, introduced the Texas Rural Jobs Act or HB 1000 — a bill that would allow small businesses in struggling rural and opportunity zone areas to expand, create jobs and revitalize communities through access to affordable resources.

“While Texas has long been known as the job creation capital of America, our small businesses — particularly those in rural and distressed communities — are finding it difficult to secure the capital needed to grow and create good jobs,” Paddie said. “The Texas Rural and Opportunity Zone Jobs Act encourages job creation and local economic development by facilitating access to private sector capital for small businesses in Texas, as well as those looking to relocate, so that all Texans can succeed.”

Paddie explained that through the program, rural and opportunity zone growth funds would work closely with private investors and local community banks to help businesses buy equipment, upgrade facilities or make other improvements needed to expand, grow jobs and strengthen the local economy.

Paddie said his bill would prioritize the creation and retention of quality jobs in important growth industries and rural communities, further driving the Texas economy forward. Furthermore, Paddie said it empowers private sector investment, ensuring a pro-growth, independent program to create high quality jobs and benefit small businesses; encourages workforce development and on-the-job training, helping businesses compete in a tight labor market; and contains important safeguards to protect the state and its taxpayers, including an independent economic impact analysis that demonstrates a positive return on investment, along with job creation requirements and profit-sharing.

“The Texas Rural and Opportunity Zone Jobs Act would ensure that every Texan has opportunity for economic advancement and upward mobility, while diversifying and growing the state’s economy,” he said.

Local leaders on Thursday said they were encouraged about the potential economic impact of the proposed bill.

“I’m pleased with Representative Paddie’s bill,” Harrison County Judge Chad Sims said. “Economic growth is not just important, it’s critical to the success of our county.

“We need to work on it from every level, including education, attracting business and workforce training,” added Sims. “Rep. Paddie is right on target with encouraging jobs in rural communities.”

Wes Morrison, Director of Community and Economic Development for the city of Marshall, echoed his sentiments.

“The city of Marshall is committed to fostering strong economic development in our community, and the Texas Rural and Opportunity Zone Jobs Act will provide another avenue for job creation, small business advancement and provide for a stronger local economy,” said Morrison. “We want all of our citizens to have access to opportunities to drive our economic growth, and this bill is a way to achieve that.”

The bill was filed by Paddie on Tuesday. He noted that the bill will be carried in the Senate by Kelly Hancock, chairman of the Senate Business and Commerce Committee.

Hancock expressed his support of the bill, saying the program is a fair, responsible and sustainable way to strengthen businesses and communities across the state that need a lift — particularly in the rural areas — while boosting the state’s economic competitiveness and growth.

“At the same time, it encourages the innovators, business owners and hard-working people of our great state to drive our economy and create new jobs,” said Hancock. “The legislation also provides transparency, safeguards and a free market, private sector focus to protect taxpayers and ensure a strong return on investment.”

The Texas Economic Development Council is also pleased by the bill, the group said.

“It’s clear that our rural economic development officials need tools and capital to help existing companies expand facilities and create new jobs,” Carlton Schwab, President and CEO of the Texas Economic Development Council, said. “As an organization, we fully support helping businesses obtain the financing they need to grow, provide good jobs and revitalize our communities and economies.”