Warner proposes federal loans to encourage foreign investment

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U.S. Sen. Mark Warner is introducing legislation to encourage foreign investment.

The America Recruits Act of 2010 would allow the U.S. Department of Commerce to provide forgivable loans of up to $10,000 per job created for employers in the advanced manufacturing and information technology industries by foreign companies.

“This will be one more tool in the toolbox for economic development,” Warner said Tuesday afternoon during a telephone news conference.

Warner, a former Virginia governor, said he could sell Virginia’s assets against other states, but faced more daunting challenges from foreign competition. “We often found those other countries were willing to literally put millions of dollars behind their efforts to attract jobs,” Warner said.

The grants would be provided to economic development agencies, which would be required to make at least a 25 percent match.

The program would cost an estimated $40 million, which Warner says would pay for itself within three to five years from taxes generated by new jobs. Companies would be required to certify that these new jobs were created from existing or potential operations in foreign countries. The companies would be required to keep the job for at least two years, or be required to pay the government back.

The program would give priority to investments in regions with high unemployment.

Warner said Tuesday that his proposal had received broad support from economic development agencies, but he has not yet officially gathered support from other senators. “Folks are really interested because we’ve seen too many jobs going abroad,” Warner said.

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