Wisconsinites urge Senator Ron Johnson to support bipartisan BUILD Act to bring private-sector funds into global poverty fight

APPLETON — A group of Wisconsinites are urging Senator Ron Johnson to support a bipartisan bill that would help fight global poverty by making it easier for innovative Wisconsin entrepreneurs to invest in developing countries. Earlier this month, a group of Wisconsinites delivered hundreds of letters and petitions from constituents urging Senator Johnson to support the Better Utilization of Investments Leading to Development (BUILD) Act (S.2463).

Brian Stahl, Director of Youth and Young Adult Ministries at First United Methodist Church, and an Appleton-based volunteer with The ONE Campaign:

“The BUILD Act is pro-business, pro-job creation, and pro-Wisconsin. Since its creation, the Overseas Private Investment Corporation has helped innovative Wisconsin entrepreneurs create jobs, build infrastructure projects, improve access to electricity, start businesses, and expand their reach in growing markets. To date, $30 million in financing commitments have been made to Wisconsin businesses yielding $54 million in exports.

“The BUILD Act takes a creative approach to bringing private-sector resources into the fight against extreme poverty. It will consolidate the Overseas Private Investment Corporation and several federal programs, and then give this ‘development finance corporation’ new tools for partnering with entrepreneurs at no cost to American taxpayers.

“All told, the bipartisan BUILD Act would bring tens of billions of dollars in new private-sector investment into the fight against extreme global poverty, while closing America’s sizable investment gap with China and other major economic competitors. And it would do so in a way that supports the long-term economic growth and stability of low-income countries, rather than taking advantage of them.

“This bill has earned support from a diverse, bipartisan coalition of more than 55 lawmakers in Congress, as well as the Trump Administration, businesses and development experts. I want Senator Johnson to know that my neighbors and I care about the BUILD Act and we want him to support the bill, too. I hope Senator Johnson will support this important bill and put Wisconsin businesses to work, lifting people out of poverty and improving life in the world’s poorest countries.”

About the BUILD Act

The bill, which is sponsored by Senators Bob Corker (R-TN) and Chris Coons (D-DE), and Representatives Ted Yoho (R-FL-03) and Adam Smith (D-WA-09), would merge several federal programs, including the Overseas Private Investment Corporation, into a new “development finance corporation” (DFC) whose purpose would be to mobilize private-sector investments to support sustainable economic growth, poverty reduction, and development through partnerships. The newly empowered DFC would be able to make loans, invest, and forge partnerships with innovative entrepreneurs who want to do business in developing countries.

To date, $30 million in financing commitments have been made to Wisconsin businesses yielding $54 million in exports. The BUILD Act will expand on the success of OPIC, increase its investment potential, and create new opportunity for Wisconsin businesses to benefit.

So far, the BUILD Act has attracted widespread bipartisan support from over 55 lawmakers in Congress and the Trump Administration. Discussing the BUILD Act recently, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said: “This investment is not waste. Nor is it about giving money away. This is a strategic investment in the most competitive part of the world for years to come… We are proud to support the BUILD Act.”

Learn more about the BUILD Act’s impact on Wisconsin here.