Ohio U.S. Senator JD Vance Pushes PPP-Style Relief for East Palestine Businesses Following Train Derailment

Ohio Senator JD Vance (R-OH) published an opinion piece in The Washington Post this week detailing the extent of support and investment needed for the Ohio town of East Palestine to rebuild following the February 3rd derailment of a Norfolk Southern train carrying toxic chemicals.

Noting that East Palestine’s median income is $44,498, Vance began his op-ed by declaring that the town has “suffered substantially from the wave of deindustrialization that saw millions of jobs leave for China, Mexico and other countries.”

“Because of this, the concerns of residents have focused on economic development questions over the past several years. How do they lure back industry? How do they support the town’s small businesses? How do they persuade some of their young people to return home after college or military service lures them away? How do they provide good jobs to those who never left at all?,” Vance wrote.

Those challenges, according to Vance, have now gotten much more difficult amid the train derailment aftermath.

Citing the February 6th controlled burn of toxic chemicals on the train to prevent an explosion, Vance continued his op-ed by highlighting the questions that continue to be asked by residents of East Palestine – not only of the quality of the air and water, but of long-term opportunity and perception of the town.

“Residents must rebuild an already stressed local economy, in a media environment where every story about the health concerns of residents drives people and capital away from their town,” Vance wrote, adding, “East Palestine will be dealing with bad perception, and its economic consequences, for years.”

“East Palestine needs long-term investment, from both the federal government and Norfolk Southern Railway,” Vance added.

Vance continued by calling for a Paycheck Protection Program-style program to “protect workers and businesses who lost their livelihoods because of the decisions of others.”

During the COVID-19 pandemic, PPP provided businesses with grants and loans to help keep them in business amid the shutdowns and drops in consumer spending.

“Otherwise, an entire town of good people will suffer mightily through no fault of their own,” Vance’s op-ed concluded.

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Kaitlin Housler is a reporter at The Ohio Star and The Star News Network.
Photo “JD Vance” by JD Vance. Background Photo “East Palestine” by 636Buster. CC BY-SA 4.0.


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