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

July 2, 2020 Press Release


WASHINGTON – Congressman Steve Cohen (TN-09), a member of the House Science, Space and Technology Committee, today applauded the inclusion of his bill, the Artificial Intelligence (AI) Careers Act, in the Fiscal Year 2021 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).  This AI Careers Act aims to improve AI education and AI workforce development.  The NDAA is set to come to the House Floor in the coming weeks.

Congressman Cohen made the following statement:

July 1, 2020 Press Release


WASHINGTON – Congressman Steve Cohen (TN-09), a senior member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, today voted for the Moving Forward Act, a sweeping, $1.5 trillion five-year bill that will create jobs while rebuilding America’s infrastructure including not only our roads, bridges, and transit systems, but also our schools, housing, broadband access, green energy, and water infrastructure.

June 30, 2020 Press Release

WASHINGTON – Congressman Steve Cohen (TN-09) today announced that the Cordova-based Memphis Area Association of Governments (MAAG) will receive a $400,000 “recovery and resiliency” grant from the Department of Commerce to deal with complications of the coronavirus pandemic. The funding was authorized in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act that became law in late March.

Congressman Cohen made the following statement:

June 30, 2020 Press Release


WASHINGTON – Congressman Steve Cohen (TN-09) today announced that Memphis-area organizations will receive $1,738,964 in emergency preparedness funding from the Department of Homeland Security to protect its port and two Memphis Jewish institutions considered at risk of attack.

The grants announced today for the Port Security Grant Program include $1 million for the Memphis Light, Gas and Water Division; $37,500 for the Memphis Fire Department; $274,500 for the Memphis Police Department; and $227,464 for the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office.

June 30, 2020 Press Release

WASHINGTON – Congressman Steve Cohen (TN-09), a member of the Science, Space and Technology Committee, today announced that LeMoyne-Owen College will receive a grant of $399,579 from the National Science Foundation for research entitled “Target Infusion Project: Overcoming the Mathematical Barrier.”

Congressman Cohen made the following statement:

June 23, 2020 Press Release

MEMPHIS – Congressman Steve Cohen (TN-09), a senior member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, today became a co-sponsor of H.R. 2, the Moving Forward Act, House Democrats’ newly unveiled bill to invest more than $1.5 trillion in modern, sustainable infrastructure while creating millions of good-paying jobs, combatting the climate crisis and addressing disparities in urban, suburban and rural communities across Tennessee, the Mid-South and throughout the country.

June 18, 2020 Press Release

WASHINGTON – Congressman Steve Cohen (TN-09), a senior member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, today announced that the Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) will receive an $11.2 million Infrastructure for Rebuilding America (INFRA) grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) for a fiber optic intelligent transportation system (ITS) along the Interstate 40 corridor between Memphis and Nashville.

June 17, 2020 Press Release


WASHINGTON – Congressman Steve Cohen (TN-09) today announced that the University of Memphis Fogelman College of Business and Economics will receive a $111,999 grant from the National Science Foundation to study how rapid changes in work conditions in response to the pandemic have affected employee well-being.

Congressman Cohen made the following statement:

June 8, 2020 Press Release

Congressman Cohen Announces Research Grant to UTHSC

MEMPHIS – Congressman Steve Cohen (TN-09) today announced that the University of Tennessee Health Science Center (UTHSC) will receive a $677,071 grant from the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases to study premature mortality in hemodialysis patients.

Congressman Cohen made the following statement: