- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Indiana, on Tuesday released a plan aimed at boosting the economy in rural parts of America, as the 2020 Democratic contender gets set to make his pitch to potential caucus-goers at the Iowa State Fair.

Mr. Buttigieg’s plan calls for up to $500 million in federal money to support 1,000 “regional innovation clusters” across the country to try to boost the economy in rural areas.

He also wanted to double apprenticeships, and the plan says that as president he will devote up to $5 billion over the next 10 years to make sure an apprenticeship program in a “growing industry” is available “within 30 miles of every American.”

He would also give tax breaks to companies who bring on interns from rural areas who are “current or recent students,” and create a new visa designed to encourage immigrants to live for several years in places that have lost working-age population and in smaller cities.

The plan also said Mr. Buttigieg would support the Renewable Fuel Standard “as written,” saying the Trump administration has allowed for too many exceptions. That could win favor from farmers in Iowa, where the corn economy — key to the country’s ethanol supply — is boosted by federal mandates on renewable fuels.

The plan also calls for an $80 billion effort to expand high-speed internet access to underserved communities, increased teacher pay at rural schools, and a $25 billion investment in Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and other Minority-Serving Institutions (MSIs).

It also calls for expanded antitrust enforcement, more sick and paid family leave, and a federal minimum wage of $15 per hour.

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