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EDITORIAL: Bill would boost communities at their core

| September 3, 2023 1:00 AM

Congress can take an important step to bolster two staples of American society: Main Street businesses and local news organizations.

The bipartisan Community News and Small Business Support Act offers tax credits to businesses with fewer than 50 employees and to local news organizations whose lifeblood is reporting local information that citizens can’t get anywhere else.

For small businesses, the bill offers credits on advertising dollars spent with local newspapers, radio and television stations. If the business spends $6,250 or more on advertising with newspapers and local media in the first year after passage of the bill, it will receive a credit of $5,000 — meaning that the $6,250 expense will end up costing only $1,250.

Over the next four years, the business will receive a credit of $2,500 if it spends at least $5,000 on advertising in local newspapers and local media.

Whether these businesses compete with giants like Amazon for product sales or any number of massive digital companies in trying to find employees to fill local jobs, the Community News and Small Business Support Act would provide a funding source that will help give them a fighting chance against Big Tech.

Revenue generated by advertising also would strengthen the bottom line of local media companies like The Press. Talk to any of the hundreds of advertisers in the paper and they’ll tell you that local advertising is an effective way to reach thousands of potential customers, in print and online. But the Act goes further than that.

For local media — not The New York Times, Fox News or other news organizations with 750 or more employees — the Community News and Small Business Support Act will also reward organizations for investing in their journalists.

In the first year after passage, the bill offers a 50% payroll credit for journalists earning up to $50,000 a year. Over the next four years, the credit would be 30% for journalists earning $50,000 a year or less. Over five years, the payroll credit would provide $85,000 for that $50,000 per year journalist.

The goal is to help news organizations at least maintain their current staffing levels, or better yet, add reporters and other professional journalists to staff that have decreased almost everywhere over the past decade.

On average, two American newspapers close every week. In many cases, they are the only source of reliable local information generated by professional journalists who live in the communities they cover. The Community News and Small Business Support Act would strengthen the nation’s local newspapers while also making them even better vehicles to deliver advertising to their markets.

The Press encourages Idaho’s congressional delegation — Senators Jim Risch and Mike Crapo, and Representatives Russ Fulcher and Mike Simpson — to get behind the Community News and Small Business Support Act.

Local business owners and managers can look forward to the benefits that the passage of the bill would provide them, and Press readers could also anticipate continued strong investment in their local news, sports, entertainment and advertising content.

For more information on the Act, please see: