The issue of poverty is very real for more than 50,000 Memphis families living on less than $15,000 a year. Help does not come easily.
In this case, the price of poverty is being paid by potential employees being passed over for work they can and want to do. Sometimes all that’s needed is a little help from the top.
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Representative Raumesh Akbari, who represents part of Memphis, sponsored the Resurgence Tax Credit Act of 2015. Since being signed into law, it’s created more than $25 million in tax breaks for business owners.
It provides tax breaks for each person they hire from the lowest income areas. In that time, 10,000 jobs could have been created, but only 95 have.
“I think that we are getting started but we do have a ways to go,” Akbari said..
Tennessee law prevents the state from disclosing where the 95 people live or even which businesses did the hiring. This bill is only one of two aimed at the poverty problem that’s become law in the last five years.
“It's not going to move as quickly as any of us would like but we are fighting to try and chip away at the barriers to surviving and thriving,” Akbari said.
Akbari thinks business owners know about the law but are not using it adding, “That's really what I it designed for. For companies to say, 'I'm willing to take a chance on an area part of town that has been neglected.'”
But a FOX13 investigation found the law is advertised in only two ways. First, in an overview of all tax incentives on the state website. Secondly, the state claims to regularly inform business owners of all the available incentives. They didn’t say if the Resurgence Act is talked about specifically.
“I'm with you, and it's there and I'm going keep doing what I can do to make sure that people are aware of it and again just hoping that they'll use that tool try to rebuild our community,” Akbari said.
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