Kildee calls for public investment in the Rust Belt

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A Mid-Michigan congressman is on a campaign to inject federal cash into his hometown. He argues the country’s future depends on revitalizing cities like Flint.

For now, it’s just a conversation, but Flint’s Rep. Dan Kildee (D-Mich.) hopes the end result will shake the rust off industrial cities and towns like his. Wednesday, he hosted his second forum aimed at convincing Capitol Hill the country’s future is tied to the economic health of its most financially-stressed areas.

“We ought to really be thinking about this region, not as one that has a great history,” he said of the Rust Belt, “but that if we invest properly, can actually drive the American economy and it can be good for everybody.”

Like-minded experts on-hand argued for tweaking existing tax credits and developing new ones. They said public investment would should attract private investment, draw people back into cities, and ensure revitalization doesn’t leave out the poor or small business.

“I don’t want every retailer in my first floor to be Dominos, Subway, or Starbucks,” said Chris Coes of Smart Growth.

Kildee concedes there’s a long path ahead for his pitch. Given current GOP tax reform plans, he said protecting old programs is more important than pushing for new ones. “We’re sort of adopting a Hippocratic oath, first, do no harm.”

Kildee plans to take his conversation around the country over the next year.

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