Bill summaries are authored by CRS.

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Passed House amended (05/12/1994)

TABLE OF CONTENTS:

Title I: Economic Development Programs

Title II: Appalachian Regional Development

Title III: Business Development Assistance

Economic Development Reauthorization Act of 1994 - Title I: Economic Development Programs - Revises the Public Works and Economic Development Act of 1965 to authorize the Secretary of Commerce, upon application of any State, political subdivision, Indian tribe, or private or public nonprofit organization or association, in cooperation with officials of local governments, to make direct grants for: (1) the acquisition or development of land and improvements for public works, public service, or development facility usage; and (2) specified related purposes, including the design and engineering of such facilities, if certain conditions are met (e.g., the project will primarily benefit the long-term unemployed and members of low-income families). Specifies limitations on expenditures in certain areas and for design and engineering.

Repeals prohibitions on: (1) using financial assistance for sewer or other waste disposal facilities without a certification by the Secretary of Health and Human Services that any waste material will be adequately treated before it is discharged into any public waterway; and (2) the percentage of the Federal share of the cost of a project funded by such a grant exceeding that originally provided for in the grant.

(Sec. 102) Specifies that where the cost of such a project has decreased such underrun funds may be used to improve the project.

(Sec. 103) Authorizes the Secretary to approve the use of grant funds on a project the purpose or scope of which has changed if such changed project meets requirements of the Act and such changes are necessary to enhance economic development in the area.

(Sec. 104) Authorizes the Secretary, upon the application of any State, acting in cooperation with officials of local governments, to purchase evidence of indebtedness and to make public works and development facility loans, if the project will meet specified goals, including primarily benefitting the long-term unemployed and members of low-income families. Prohibits the purchase of business loans or loan guarantees with terms of maturity of more than 25 years or of indebtedness which matures more than 25 years after the date of purchase, with exceptions. Repeals provisions regarding the redevelopment area loan program.

(Sec. 105) Directs the Secretary, in providing assistance, to take into consideration the unique development needs of urban areas with populations of 400,000 or less. Specifies that grants for administrative expenses shall be used, where practicable, in conjunction with other available planning grants, such as certain planning activities under the Housing and Community Development Act of 1974.

Repeals provisions regarding: (1) research into causes of chronic depression; (2) grants and contracts for demonstration projects within regional development areas; and (3) supplemental and basic grants.

Revises provisions regarding economic development planning. Authorizes appropriations.

(Sec. 106) Directs the Secretary to conduct a project demonstrating methods of assisting isolated small businesses to access services provided by Federal, State, and local governments. Requires the Secretary to establish three business outreach centers, with at least one in a rural area, to provide: (1) a one-stop clearinghouse to assist isolated small businesses in accessing small business services provided by Federal, State, and local governments and to improve efficiency in the delivery of such services; and (2) services including outreach, needs assessment, referrals, preparation of materials, case management, coordination of networking, and quality control.

(Sec. 107) Directs the Secretary to establish an Office of Strategic Economic Development Planning and Policy to: (1) support research, evaluation, and demonstration projects; (2) develop recommendations on short- and long-term policies regarding economic development issues and programs; and (3) take a leading role in developing and promoting greater coordination among States, regions, and local communities in the design and implementation of economic development strategies and work with Federal agencies to increase coordination among Federal programs that provide economic development assistance.

Requires the Secretary to conduct a continuing program of study, training, and research to assist in: (1) determining the causes of unemployment, underemployment, underdevelopment, and chronic depression in the various areas and regions of the Nation; (2) formulating and implementing national, State, and local programs to raise income levels and otherwise produce solutions to the problems resulting from these conditions; and (3) providing the personnel needed to conduct such programs. Directs the Secretary to make available to interested individuals and organizations the results of such research and to include in a required annual report a detailed statement concerning such study and research.

Requires the Secretary to: (1) develop a computerized geographic analysis tool that all Federal departments and agencies and grant recipients may use to evaluate the success of these programs; and (2) establish an advisory committee for the Office and a Federal Coordinating Council for Economic Development (to assist in providing a framework for economic and regional development efforts and to develop a Government-wide strategic plan for economic development).

Authorizes the Secretary to make grants, enter into contracts, or otherwise provide funds for demonstration projects designed to foster regional productivity and growth, prevent outmigration, and otherwise carry out the purposes of this Act.

(Sec. 108) Directs the Secretary to establish an Office of Economic Development Information (Office) within the Office of Strategic Economic Development Planning and Policy to: (1) serve as a central information clearinghouse on matters relating to economic development, economic adjustment, industrial retention, disaster recovery, and defense conversion programs and activities of the Federal and State governments, including political subdivisions of the States; and (2) help potential and actual applicants in locating and applying for appropriate Federal, State, and local assistance.

Requires the Office to: (1) develop information databases for use by Federal, State, and local governmental agencies, public and private entities, and individuals in identifying and applying for assistance and resources; and (2) establish several mechanisms to assure that the databases be as accessible, user-friendly, culturally neutral, and affordable as possible.

(Sec. 109) Revises criteria for area eligibility for certain assistance under the Act to include requirements that the area: (1) has a per capita income of 80 percent or less of the national average; (2) has an unemployment rate one percent above the national average for the most recent 24-month period; (3) has experienced or is about to experience a sudden economic dislocation resulting in significant job loss; and (4) has a large concentration of low-income persons, is a rural area having substantial outmigration or substantial economic deterioration and unemployment, or has substantial unemployment. Requires that criteria certifications be supported by Federal data or, when not available, State data and that the most recent statistics be used.

(Sec. 110) Authorizes assistance for a project only if the applicant submits and the Secretary approves an investment strategy which: (1) identifies the economic development problems to be addressed, past, present, and projected future economic development investments in the area, public and private participants, and funding sources; (2) sets forth and describes a strategy for addressing the economic problems identified; and (3) provides a description of the project, cost estimates, timetables, and a summary of public and private resources expected to be available. Terminates the current Overall Economic Development Program under the Act.

(Sec. 111) Provides for the continuation of economic development districts designated under the Act. Permits funds authorized under other provisions of the Act to be used for economic development centers and bonus grants for such districts. Repeals provisions regarding: (1) the furnishing of an overall economic development program to an appropriate regional commission and financial assistance to parts of an economic development district not within a redevelopment area; and (2) unemployment rate determinations.

(Sec. 112) Provides for the appointment of an Assistant Secretary of Commerce (currently,an Administrator) for Economic Development. Repeals provisions regarding the appointment of an Advisory Committee on Regional Economic Development.

(Sec. 113) Requires: (1) the Assistant Secretary for Economic Development to publish guidelines for the expedited processing of economic development grant applications; and (2) the Secretary to develop a simplified application form for grant assistance under the Act and recommendations for prioritizing applications and awarding funding for projects based on the relative needs of eligible areas and the capacity of an applicant to carry out a project.

(Sec. 116) Requires the Secretary: (1) at least every two years, to assess the performance and contribution toward job creation of each university center and economic redevelopment district receiving grant assistance; and (2) to study innovative economic development financing tools, including a guaranteed loan program and an equity financing program.

(Sec. 118) Expands the powers of the Secretary to take specified actions under the Act with respect to grants or loans. Repeals certain savings provisions and provisions regarding the prevention of unfair competition. Authorizes the Secretary to accept transfers of funds from other Federal agencies under specified conditions. Reauthorizes appropriations.

Revises penalties under the Act regarding false statements and security overvaluation and embezzlement and related offenses to provide for a fine (currently, specifies a fine of not more than $10,000), up to five years' imprisonment (as under current law), or both.

Repeals provisions regarding the extension of benefits made available under other Federal programs.

Authorizes the Secretary to accept the applicants' certifications to meet the requirements of the Act.

(Sec. 120) Directs the Secretary to take actions to ensure that individuals serving as Regional Counsels of the Economic Development Administration report directly to their respective Regional Director.

(Sec. 121) Repeals provisions of the Act regarding economic recovery for disaster areas.

(Sec.122) Redefines "eligible recipient" (for purposes of special economic development and adjustment assistance) to include, at the Secretary's discretion, a public or private nonprofit organization or association.

Authorizes the Secretary to make grants to eligible recipients under specified circumstances for administrative expenses and industrial retention (currently, for unemployment compensation, rent supplements, mortgage payment assistance, research, and technical assistance) and for other specified purposes.

Repeals provisions of the Act regarding: (1) grants for unemployment compensation; and (2) transfer of funds to the Secretary of Labor.

Authorizes the Secretary to: (1) make assistance available for projects to be carried out on military installations being closed or realigned or in adversely affected communities; and (2) provide to an eligible recipient assistance available for a project to be carried out on a military installation that is closed or scheduled for closure or realignment without requiring such recipient to have title to the property.

(Sec. 123) Provides that amounts from special economic development and adjustment assistance grants which are used by an eligible recipient to establish a revolving loan fund shall not be treated as amounts derived from Federal funds for the purposes of any Federal law after such amounts are loaned from the fund to a borrower and repaid to the fund, with exceptions. Requires the Secretary to provide a reasonable opportunity for public review and comment before issuing any final guidelines or administrative manuals governing the operation of such revolving loan funds.

(Sec. 124) Directs the Assistant Secretary for Economic Development to designate for each State in which communities are adversely affected by defense base closures an individual to serve as a representative of the Economic Development Administration to provide outreach and technical assistance in obtaining assistance.

(Sec. 125) Permits the sale of financial instruments in revolving loan funds, subject to specified limitations.

(Sec. 126) Directs the Secretary to establish a two-year demonstration project of matching grants for establishing substantially leveraged financing for business development and other innovative economic development efforts, subject to specified requirements. Authorizes appropriations.

(Sec. 129) Sets forth provisions regarding: (1) compliance with the Buy American Act; and (2) regulatory relief.

Title II: Appalachian Regional Development - Amends the Appalachian Regional Development Act of 1965 to: (1) require the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) to conduct at least annually a meeting with the Federal Cochairman and a majority of State members in attendance; (2) authorize the ARC to conduct additional meetings by electronic means; (3) authorize appropriations for administrative expenses, the Appalachian development highway system, and general programs under the Act; (4) extend the authority to lease office space; (5) empower the Federal Cochairman to provide supplements to other Federal grant-in-aid programs; (6) include as eligible for assistance under the Act programs or projects in severely distressed and underdeveloped counties or areas lacking resources for basic services; (7) remove certain financial assistance limitations; (8) empower the ARC to make grants for administrative expenses of local development districts and for research and demonstration projects; (9) require the ARC to carry out at least two solid waste disposal projects that demonstrate solid waste disposal techniques in rural areas; (10) repeal a provision requiring information from research and development activities under the Act to be made available to the general public; (11) add to the Appalachian region Montgomery, Roanoke, and Rockbridge counties in Virginia and Hale County in Alabama; and (12) terminate the Act on October 1, 1996.

(Sec. 212) Establishes a Regional Development Task Force to study the ARC's effectiveness and whether its characteristics can be utilized to address needs in other economically distressed regions of the United States. Terminates the Task Force on the date of submission to the Congress of its report on study results.

(Sec. 213) Requires compliance with Buy American requirements for funds disbursed under the Act. Requires the ARC to provide to each recipient of such funds notice of such requirements.

Title III: Business Development Assistance - Economic Growth and Technology Commercialization Act of 1994 - Directs the Secretary to establish and maintain an integrated, comprehensive database describing all technologies, processes, and other proprietary rights owned or held in whole or part by the Federal Government or which originated in the course of federally funded research in which the Government has an interest.

Requires the Secretary to: (1) take steps to ensure that the information contained in the database is in a standardized form and is accessible; and (2) provide unlimited access to the database to the Business Development and Technology Commercialization Corporation, without fee, subject to specified restrictions.

Directs the Comptroller General of the United States to conduct and report to the Congress on a review of all technology utilization and commercialization activities within all Federal departments, agencies, and laboratories or which are otherwise supported by Federal funds, identifying overlapping or duplicative activities.

(Sec. 304) Requires the Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy in the Executive Office of the President to: (1) assess the performance of technology utilization and commercialization programs of the Government; (2) evaluate the advantages and disadvantages of a centralized as opposed to a decentralized approach; and (3) develop recommendations on ways to improve such programs.

Directs the Secretary to identify ways to promote more effective integration of Federal policies and programs relating to technology utilization and commercialization with those for assisting economically distressed communities in establishing stable and diversified local economies.

Requires the President to provide for the establishment of a Business Development and Technology Commercialization Corporation unless it would impair the operation of Federal policies and programs relating to technology utilization and commercialization.

Sets forth provisions regarding: (1) the proposed organization and privatization of the Corporation; (2) a prohibition on conflicts on interest; and (3) general powers of the Corporation.

Directs the Corporation to: (1) undertake an aggressive, multifaceted outreach program to increase awareness of the availability of technologies, processes, and other proprietary rights to qualified concerns, emphasizing the use of new information technologies; (2) enter into negotiations for the utilization of cable television; (3) provide technical assistance and services; and (4) seek to ensure that qualified concerns and small businesses in areas with a depressed economy or chronically high unemployment are notified of the availability of assistance.

(Sec. 305) Requires the Corporation to: (1) act as a one-stop clearinghouse for information to help qualified concerns identify sources of business development and technology commercialization financing available through the Federal Government, as well as through applicable State and local government programs and private sources; and (2) upon request, provide technical assistance and services to lenders and borrowers.