Congressman Dwight Evans: Fighting for Pennsylvania’s 2nd District on Capitol Hill
Dwight Evans is no stranger to fighting hard for his community. Serving as a member of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives for 36 years, he made a name for himself as an advocate for the poor and underserved individuals living in Philadelphia. During his time serving in the State House, Evans served as Chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, fought for teachers and education, brought fresh fruit and vegetables to inner city grocery stores, championed small businesses, and worked toward state funding for public transportation across the Commonwealth.
After a storied career in Harrisburg, Dwight Evans announced that he would run for office at the next level. On November 8, 2016 Evans was elected to represent Pennsylvania’s 2nd district as a member of the United States House of Representatives.
Now serving his constituents from Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., Congressman Evans has vowed to continue fighting for those individuals that live and work in the poor and underserved areas of Philadelphia. As a member of both the Small Business Committee and the House Committee on Agriculture, the future of Congressman Evans’ efforts to better serve his community looks bright.
PACB recently sat down with the freshman Congressman at his district office in the West Oak Lane section of Philadelphia to discuss his plans as he enters the next chapter in his political career.
PACB Director of Government relations Allison Coccia (AC): You are now a few months into your first term after formerly serving in the Pennsylvania State House of Representatives for thirty-six years. What are some of your observations so far? What has surprised you?
US Representative Dwight Evans (DE): During my first few months in office, I have enjoyed getting to know the people and issues most pressing in the 2nd Congressional District. I am looking forward to continuing the work that I began on a local level many years ago and I welcome the opportunity to talk about neighborhoods, small business development and food access on a national level. The pace in Washington, DC is very fast. There are new issues 24 hours a day. I love being engaged in our democracy, so for me there is no place I would rather be right now.
AC: What do you hope to accomplish in your first term?
DE: I hope to be a strong voice and an advocate for the people of the 2nd Congressional District. I would also like to see my bill, HR 922 become law. HR 922 would amend the Internal Revenue Code to allow rehabilitation expenditures for a qualified public educational facility—defined as a school facility which is part of a public elementary or secondary school and is owned by a private, for-profit corporation pursuant to a public-private agreement—to qualify for the rehabilitation tax credit.
AC: The new Trump administration has brought quite a few changes along with it to say the least. What are some of the areas in which you think you could work together?
DE: President Trump has promised to revitalize America’s roads, bridges, railways and airports. I am a huge supporter of infrastructure and job creation, therefore these are issues where we have common ground.
AC: You have been named to the House Small Business Committee, which is a good fit considering your background. Can you flesh out some of the committee’s priorities for this session?
DE: Small businesses and entrepreneurs play a remarkable role in the United States economy. There are currently 29.6 million small businesses in the United States who employ about 58 million people. This makes up nearly 50 percent of all private-sector employees in the nation. Small businesses create jobs and opportunities, spur innovation and are a fundamental component in the fabric of our nation. The committee is working to ensure our small businesses have access to capital and economic opportunity, assisting small businesses and entrepreneurs in having a sound understanding of the impact of repealing the Affordable Care Act, and addressing the economic concerns confronting small business owners.
AC: You are a big advocate of urban renewal and ensuring that citizens have proper access to capital and financial services. Can you talk a little bit about some of your ideas?
DE: I have a number of ideas in this particular area:
Providing loan guarantees for private banks to loan to struggling small businesses, enabling county funds to work with the financial community to leverage private-sector resources.
Establishing a nationwide Capital Access Program (CAP) to encourage banks to make loans available to small businesses for startup costs and working capital lines of credit. Under CAPs both borrowers and lenders pay a small fee matched by the government to create a reserve account in case of defaults.
Creating a micro-lending fund to make capital available to businesses that do not have access to the traditional commercial banking sector.
Instituting a revolving loan fund to provide matching funds to companies and property owners seeking to renovate existing properties for laboratory space and to build new facilities.
Designing equity financing programs to help small and emerging businesses avoid excessive debt loads.
Launching early-stage seed financing programs to help entrepreneurs protect their intellectual property, refine technologies, and write business plans.
AC: What are your thoughts on community banks and their role in the community? What are some ways we can partner together to foster economic growth?
DE: Community banks play an important part in the financial system and in our economy. Every neighborhood commercial center needs to include easy public access to real banking facilities – not exploitative financial substitutes. Community businesses and entrepreneurs truly need access to capital in an even broader sense.
AC: Do you support regulatory relief specific to community banks?
DE: I support regulations that ensure our community banks are serving and safeguarding the members of our community, and that are also specifically tailored to support the needs of our financial institutions.
AC: What do you like most about serving the constituents of the 2nd Congressional District?
DE: The people themselves. They are very good people. They care about their community and they really want to work together. I think it is important to understand that people really are in this community because they want to make a difference.
As I introduce you to entrepreneurs and people who run businesses, they really are concerned about how they are going to make things work. They want their government to work with them. They want the elected officials in government to work with them.
AC: Congressmen keep a very busy schedule. What do you like to do in your off-time?
DE: I’m an avid Philadelphia sports fan. I also love to read and there are always several books on my nightstand.
This exclusive interview can be found featured in the March 2017 issue of Transactions. Would you like to receive a physical copy of the magazine each month? If so, please contact PACB today!