Economic Development

Supporting Small Businesses

The women in Leah's family have owned and operated their own businesses for four generations, so Leah knows the value small businesses have in our rural communities. Small businesses with less than 20 workers make up the backbone of our economy and account for over 89 percent of all employers. Fostering the growth of small businesses is paramount to ensuring our rural communities thrive in the years ahead. In Congress, Leah will ensure rural economic stimulus programs across the federal government are funded proportionately with their urban counterparts.

Preparing a 21st Century Workforce

The American economy, along with the economy of the 8th district, is in a high speed transition from labor intensive industries to knowledge intensive industries. To better capitalize on the economic opportunities afforded by our interconnected world, upgrading our rural cities and towns with high speed broadband is a necessity. Leah’s plan will permanently increase the funding for the United States Department of Agriculture’s Community Connect Grants program as well as increase funding for broadband grants through the Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration. Also, Leah will fight for an infrastructure bill that guarantees federal dollars to build out broadband infrastructure in our rural cities and towns.

Raising the Minimum Wage

The current federal minimum wage of $7.25/hour has not been increased since 2009 and has steadily lost purchasing power over the last eight years. The current federal minimum wage barely puts a full-time minimum wage earner above the federal poverty line without a chance to afford a two-bedroom apartment in most American cities. In Congress Leah will fight to raise the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour and work provisions into the law that ensure small and rural businesses are not burdened by this increase.

Closing the Gender Pay Gap

The gender pay gap in America and in Minnesota presents an economic security threat to working women and their families. The most recent data available shows women earn only 83 cents on the dollar compared to men. This translates into women having to work an extra 44 days each year just to be on par with the men they work alongside each day. Even though women have never been more educated and outpace their male colleagues in bachelor degree and advanced degree attainment, this massive pay gap still exists. In Congress Leah will fight to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act, a bill that has been introduced 11 times since 1997. Passing this legislation will help close the gender pay gap quickly, ensuring economic security for working women.

Union Protections

Leah knows that labor unions have been and are the backbone of worker protections and security across the labor force. As a member of the SEIU Bargaining Committee for Augsburg University where she serves as adjunct faculty, she knows first-hand how important unions are for gaining and maintaining livable wages and benefits. The economic security that unions fight for must be preserved, and Leah is committed to this mission. In Congress Leah will fight to protect and strengthen every American’s right to organize and benefit from union membership.