Barletta Chairs Hearing Highlighting Importance of Disaster Response and Economic Development Programs
Click here to view Rep. Barletta’s remarks during the hearing.
WASHINGTON – Yesterday, Congressman Lou Barletta (PA-11) highlighted the importance of economic development programs and the need to invest in resilient infrastructure and pre-disaster mitigation measures, especially in the wake of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma.
During the hearing in the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure’s Subcommittee on Economic Development, Public Buildings, and Emergency Management, of which Barletta is the Chairman, witnesses discussed how local, state, and federal agencies can build better to save lives, strengthen our communities, and reduce disaster costs and losses.
“We must work to ensure the states and communities impacted by these hurricanes recover, and recover quickly,” Barletta said. “In the district I represent, many businesses and homes were impacted by flood waters during Tropical Storm Lee and Hurricane Irene in 2011. I know from experience that we must build back using mitigation techniques that will minimize the impact of future disasters.”
When asked by Barletta about the ways in which agencies like the Economic Development Administration (EDA) and the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) work to prevent disaster related damage, Justin Hembree, Executive Director of the National Association of Development Organizations, noted that identifying what communities needs are in terms of potential mitigation and encouraging that planning process are two ways to minimize loss when disaster strikes.
Barletta also asked Bill Seigel, the Assistant Executive Director of SEDA-Council of Governments, which serves 11 counties in Pennsylvania, about the ways in EDA and ARC help small and distressed communities overcome economic challenges.
“Not only do economic development programs help communities,” Siegel said, “but they support individual businesses by providing financial guidance and assistance with obtaining funding that is necessary in moving their projects forward.” Seigel also highlighted how EDA and ARC have helped many coal-impacted communities get back on their feet.
“There are still many communities impacted by the anthracite coal industry that has declined. The POWER program has provided us an opportunity to utilize over 6,000 acres of coal-damaged land located in lower Northumberland County. Today we have converted that into the Anthracite Outdoor Activity area. It has turned into an outstanding economic development engine for that otherwise distressed community.”
Barletta’s hearing was part of a larger series being held by the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee to hear feedback from stakeholders on a larger infrastructure package.