Economy and Jobs

Generating jobs and strengthening the economy is one of Congressman Cohen’s top priorities in Congress. Some of the efforts that Congressman Cohen has made to bring much needed economic revitalization to Memphis include:

Economic Development

  • Congressman Cohen helped to secure the $71.2 million Department of Transportation grant for the Lamar Avenue redevelopment project, an effort that has been a top priority for Congressman Cohen since he was elected to federal office. The project includes major roadway repairs and capacity upgrades to Lamar Avenue, a regionally and nationally important intermodal freight corridor and will facilitate truck traffic in and out of the BNSF intermodal freight facility, creating efficiencies in the movement of goods and bring jobs and economic growth to Memphis.
  • Congressman Cohen helped Memphis secure a $30 million federal grant from the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Choice Neighborhood program to redevelop Foote Homes and bring much needed revitalization to Memphis.
  • Congressman Cohen helped Memphis acquire a $15 million TIGER grant for the Main to Main pedestrian and bike path project across the Harahan Bridge and other improvements to downtown Memphis infrastructure.
  • Congressman Cohen helped Memphis-Shelby County Airport to be selected as one of ten federal test sites for the Unmanned Aircraft Systems Integration Pilot Program (drones), a program overseen by the Department of Transportation that will increase the stature of Memphis as a center for this cutting-edge technology and burgeoning industry, ultimately bringing jobs and positive economic growth to the region.  

Economic Empowerment

  • Congressman Cohen fought for years to secure funding for the Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) Business Center in Memphis that led to a three year $1 million grant from the U.S. Department of Commerce (DOC) in 2012. The MBDA is the only federal agency created specifically to foster the establishment and growth of minority-owned businesses in America.
  • Congressman Cohen introduced the Supermarket Tax Credit for Underserved Areas to provide tax incentives for the establishment of supermarkets in food deserts. The bill increases the work employment tax credit to hire disadvantaged youth, community residents and veterans and also provides a credit of sales for fresh fruit and vegetables from local community gardens.
  • Congressman Cohen cosponsored the Pay Workers a Living Wage Act to increase the minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2020.
  • Congressman Cohen cosponsored the Paycheck Fairness Act to strengthen the Equal Pay Act by providing effective remedies to women who are not being paid equal wages for doing equal work and protecting employees from retaliation for sharing salary information with their coworkers.
  • Congressman Cohen cosponsored the Credit Access and Inclusion Act to allow the use of non-financial service providers to provide customers’ on-time payments to credit reporting agencies, including gas, electric, and telecommunications firms and landlords. The bill enables more predictive information of often-credit-invisible consumers to be utilized to establish credit.
  • Congressman Cohen cosponsored the Original Living Wage Act. The bill links the federal minimum wage to 15% over the federal poverty threshold for a family of four ($24,600) and increases the minimum wage automatically every four years to ensure that inflation does not diminish purchasing power.
  • Congressman Cohen cosponsored the Keep Our Pensions Promises Act to prohibit multiemployer pension plans from reducing retirees’ monthly benefits and safeguard guaranteed benefits to ensure participants from companies that leave multiemployer plans, and subsequently stop paying into them, will continue to receive benefits.
  • Congressman Cohen cosponsored the Restoring Overtime Pay Act to support overtime protections and robust wages for working people by pegging the salary threshold to the 40th percentile of wages in the lowest wage census region and requires automatic updates every three years to ensure the threshold remains in-line with overall increases in workers’ wages.
  • Congressman Cohen cosponsored the Schedules that Work Act to provide relief to workers facing irregular and unpredictable schedules. It would require that retail, food service, and cleaning employees receive work schedules at least two weeks in advance. Though schedules may later be changed, one hour’s worth of extra pay is required for schedules changed with less than 24 hours’ notice.
  • Congressman Cohen cosponsored the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act to require employers to make reasonable, low-cost, non-disruptive accommodations to employees who have limitations stemming from pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions, unless the accommodation would impose an undue hardship on the employer.

Consumer Protection

  • Congressman Cohen introduced the Fair Access to Credit Scores Act to amend the Fair Credit Reporting Act to provide all consumers with a free credit score each year. In January 2017, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) ordered credit reporting agencies TransUnion and Equifax to pay more than $23.2 million in fines for deceiving consumers about the usefulness and cost of credit scores they bought from credit reporting agencies.
  • Congressman Cohen introduced the Equal Employment for All Act along with Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) to amend the Fair Credit and Reporting Act to prohibit the use of consumer credit checks against prospective and current employees for the purposes of making adverse employment decisions.
  • Congressman Cohen cosponsored a Congressional Review Act resolution to nullify the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) rollback of net neutrality protections.
  • Congressman Cohen cosponsored the Comprehensive Consumer Credit Reporting Reform Act to make sweeping reforms to safeguard consumers’ personally identifiable information from future attacks similar to the Equifax breach, provide affordable access to credit freezing services, and shorten the time period that adverse credit remains on the record.  
  • Congressman Cohen introduced the Tax Return Preparer Accountability Act to give the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) explicit authority to ensure that paid tax preparers are adequately trained and maintain high standards of integrity protect consumers from fraudulent tax preparation businesses.
  • Congressman Cohen cosponsored the Protecting Consumers from Unreasonable Credit Rates to establish a maximum Annual Percentage Rate of 36 percent and applies this cap to all open-end and closed-end consumer credit transactions, including mortgages, car loans, credit cards, overdraft loans, car title loans, refund anticipation loans, and payday loans.
  • Congressman Cohen cosponsored the Return to Prudent Banking Act to reinstate the Glass Steagall Act to revive the separation between commercial banking and investment banking by increasing federal oversight over large investment banks but maintaining the flexibility of smaller, local community banks.

More on Economy and Jobs

May 7, 2021 Press Release

MEMPHIS – Congressman Steve Cohen (TN-09) today announced that Memphis will receive $15,502,585 and Shelby County will receive $6,812,110 in Emergency Rental Assistance. The funding, in coordination with the U.S. Department of the Treasury, the White House American Rescue Plan Implementation Team and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, will help prevent evictions and ensure basic housing security for households affected by the pandemic and its economic fallout.

Congressman Cohen made the following statement:

May 6, 2021 Press Release

MEMPHIS – Congressman Steve Cohen (TN-09) will meet with Second Gentleman of the United States Douglas Emhoff and Labor Secretary Martin Walsh as they visit Memphis today and will participate with them in a roundtable discussion at the Benjamin L. Hooks Job Corps Center.

Congressman Cohen made the following statement:

May 5, 2021 Press Release

MEMPHIS – Congressman Steve Cohen (TN-09), a senior member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, today announced that the Memphis and Shelby County Port Commission will receive a $400,000 grant from the Commerce Department’s Economic Development Administration to underwrite a study of the suitability of a 1,000-acre marine multi-modal freight terminal along the south side of McKellar Lake in southwest Memphis.

Congressman Cohen made the following statement:

May 5, 2021 Press Release

MEMPHIS – Congressman Cohen learned of the passing of civic leader and lawyer Arnold Perl on Tuesday and made the following statement:

April 28, 2021 Press Release

MEMPHIS – Congressman Steve Cohen (TN-09), a senior member of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, watched President Biden’s address to a joint session of Congress this evening and made the following statement:

April 26, 2021 Press Release

WASHINGTON – Congressman Steve Cohen (TN-09) and Congresswomen Gwen Moore (WI-04), Bonnie Watson Coleman (NJ-12) and Jahana Hayes (CT-05) today introduced the Making Essentials Affordable and Lawful (MEAL) Act to lift restrictions on the receipt of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) benefits for people with prior felony drug convictions.

Congressman Cohen made the following statement:

April 20, 2021 Press Release

WASHINGTON – Congressman Steve Cohen (TN-09) joined a bipartisan, bicameral letter to Administrator Isabella Guzman encouraging the Small Business Administration (SBA) to implement the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant (SVOG) emergency relief program Congress established to keep small businesses such as local music venues, movie theaters, museums and zoos across the country open and operating.

The letter reads in part:

April 15, 2021 Press Release

WASHINGTON – Congressman Steve Cohen (TN-09) today voted for, and the House passed, the Paycheck Fairness Act, which closes loopholes and strengthens the 1963 Equal Pay Act, including providing effective remedies for women who are not receiving equal pay for equal work. The vote was 217 to 210.

Congressman Cohen made the following statement:

April 15, 2021 Press Release

WASHINGTON – Congressman Steve Cohen (TN-09) and Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (NY-14) led a letter with 26 of their Congressional colleagues asking the Biden Administration to reconsider the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers use of Nationwide 12 (NWP12) authority to construct fossil fuel pipelines over sensitive aquifers and historic Black neighborhoods. Specifically, they ask the Administration to reevaluate the Nationwide Permit 12 for the Byhalia Connection Pipeline Project planned in Memphis.