Hickenlooper outlines plan to expand broadband, strengthen rural communities

Hickenlooper outlines plan to expand broadband, strengthen rural communities
© Greg Nash

Democratic 2020 hopeful John HickenlooperJohn HickenlooperLeft off debate stage, Bullock all-in on Iowa Yang says he would not run as a third-party candidate The Hill's Morning Report - Hurricane Dorian devastates the Bahamas, creeps along Florida coast MORE on Monday outlined an agenda to strengthen rural communities. 

Hickenlooper's proposal would expand broadband access, raise the federal loan guarantee to 90 percent of loan values and increase funding for the USDA Rural Development Program. 

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The former Colorado governor also proposes a "Mom and Pop" tax credit for small businesses to provide up to $50,000 in lifetime tax credit based on demonstrated growth of the business. 

"We need a rural agenda that builds on the distinctive assets of each community and addresses challenges at the local level rather than imposing one-size-fits-all strategies," Hickenlooper wrote in an op-ed published Monday in The Cedar Rapids Gazette

Hickenlooper, who has struggled to gain traction in the crowded 2020 Democratic primary, took aim at President TrumpDonald John TrumpAlaska Republican Party cancels 2020 primary Ukrainian official denies Trump pressured president Trump goes after New York Times, Washington Post: 'They have gone totally CRAZY!!!!' MORE in the op-ed, saying the president "has led the most anti-rural agenda in modern history, with a reckless tariff war and draconian policies that undermine access to affordable health care, and impose deep cuts to critical economic development resources in these communities."

Some of Hickenlooper's proposal builds on the former Colorado governor's home state programs. 

The agenda includes proposals to create Entrepreneurial Opportunity Zones, similar to Colorado's Rural Jump-Start Program. It would provide additional incentives for entrepreneurs and workers in rural areas. 

Hickenlooper's plan would create a new model for apprenticeship and skills training, based on Colorado's CareerWise program, the campaign said. 

The plan also includes a free community college for all "who cannot afford it," the campaign said. 

RealClearPolitics average of polls shows the former Colorado governor polling at just 0.5 percent.

Hickenlooper is one of 20 Democratic primary hopefuls who will participate in this week's second debate in Detroit. 

He will appear alongside nine fellow candidates Tuesday, the first night of debates.