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Senate bill would help high unemployment counties

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Stone and Taney are among a number of Missouri counties that would benefit from an introduced U.S. Senate bill meant to extend coverage of aid for underutilized business zones.

U.S. Sen. Kit Bond announced yesterday in a news release intentions to temporarily extend the national Historically Underutilized Business Zones to include all counties with a 12 month average unemployment rate of at least 20 percent above the national average.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics May figures showed Taney County with an unemployment rate of 10.8 percent and Stone County with a rate of 9.9 percent; June figures will be released on July 20. The National unemployment rate is 9.5 percent.

The bill is a bipartisan effort dubbed the Rebuilding Local Business Act of 2010, and along with Republican Sen. Bond is sponsored by Democratic Sens. Jeff Merkley of Oregon and Evan Bayh of Indiana, according to the Bond news release.

HUBZone is a U.S. Small Business Administration program meant to promote job growth and improve capital and economic development to historically underutilized business zones, according to the SBA Web site. The program provides contracting assistance to small businesses located in such communities.

The program would be extended to more areas for three years, a time period in which counties hit hard by the recession can be helped, according to the release.

"This bipartisan bill will temporarily expand the successful jobs-creating HUBZone program to help small businesses rebuild, revitalize and bring hope to the communities in Missouri and across the nation that are suffering the most from job loss," Bond said in the release.

Currently, counties with a 12 month unemployment rate average at least 40 percent above the national average are eligible for the program, the news release said.

The bill is currently being reviewed by the Senate's Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, of which Sen. Bond is a member, and will be reintroduced to the floor afterward.[[In-content Ad]]

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