By JOSH HARDER,
Candidate For CA10
I’m running for Congress here in California’s District 10 because I’m tired of seeing the Valley’s economy fall behind. Our unemployment rate is double the California average. A few months ago, Seneca Foods Corp. announced it will close its Modesto plant, which during peak season had 2,000 employees. A couple decades ago, this same plant had 10,000 jobs. Eighty percent of these jobs have been automated or outsourced. I am sick and tired of seeing situations like that of Seneca Food Corporation. We can do better than this Central Valley.
In my business career, I have helped entrepreneurs and small companies develop their ideas and grow high-paying jobs. As your Representative, I will work to help small businesses and working-class Americans have the opportunities they need to be successful.
Here are my plans in Congress to jumpstart the local economy here in Central Valley:
Invest in long-term efficiency for farmers: By providing tax incentives for farmers to buy micro irrigation drips, we dramatically decrease water usage while increasing production, creating for a thriving economy for Ag.
Build enough water storage for the Valley for the next 100 years so that when it does rain we use it to recharge our aquifers and groundwater. Six years of drought were followed by one year of flooding. We have to be better prepared to take advantage of the rain when it comes. One of the storage forms I will prioritize is inland desalination plants.
Fight for a Pathway to Citizenship. America is a nation of immigrants and we rely on immigrant labor to keep our economic engine humming. Nowhere is that more obvious than in the Central Valley, where immigrants are the bedrock of our community. Fifty-five percent of farmers in California report they are struggling due to the lack of labor here in the Valley. We need to welcome these hardworking individuals out of the shadows and provide them with a simple pathway to citizenship.
Work to make college and technical training programs more affordable and accessible in the Valley, including by fighting for tuition-free community and technical college.
Fund apprenticeship programs, like those that Gallo and Amazon put into place, teaching local high school students the skills local companies need. Upon graduation, these kids have an offer from these companies for $25 per hour jobs with benefits. We need to make sure our graduates have pathways to careers that have a future.
Prioritizing Central Valley Resident Jobs
In order to encourage employers to hire locally and invest in training employees here, we need to offer businesses tax cuts on employees in areas with high unemployment. This way, we encourage companies to come to the parts of the Central Valley with high unemployment and develop long term plans to stay in the Central Valley.
I studied economics, business, and public policy at Stanford and Harvard to equip me with the knowledge to fight for business policies on the federal level that will help jumpstart the economy here in the Valley. For the past ten years, I was fortunate enough to have applied these principles in my business career. I hope to apply these plans on behalf of you and other Central Valley citizens in Washington, D.C. I humbly ask for your vote on June 5.
Josh Harder is a Democratic candidate seeking election to the 10th Congressional District. The opinions expressed here are those of the author.