July 29 (UPI) -- Democratic presidential candidate John Hickenlooper unveiled a plan Monday that seeks to revitalize rural U.S. communities, which includes expanding broadband Internet, increasing funds for the agricultural development plans and tax credits for small businesses.
The former Colorado governor detailed the plan in an op-ed Monday in the Cedar Rapids Gazette in Iowa, which will hold the first Democratic caucus of the 20202 campaign on Feb. 3.
"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. "I will empower local authorities and residents to take action to create and sustain vibrant local economies where Americans of all ages want to live, work and raise their families.
"I'll do this by bringing together government, the private sector and nonprofits to support and build local solutions for local challenges."
Hickenlooper said his plans will increase federal loan guarantees to 90 percent of a loan's value, and cut back lenders' red tape. He also proposes a "Mom and Pop" tax credit of up to $50,000 in lifetime credits for small businesses. His plan also creates a program of entrepreneurial opportunity zones based on the Colorado Rural Jump-Start Program -- an initiative he oversaw as governor that gives incentives for rural entrepreneurs and workers.
"As president, I would commit to rolling out fast and reliable broadband Internet available to all Americans, as we did in Colorado," he wrote. "Too many rural communities are falling behind because their residents do not have access to the Internet."
Hickenlooper, who has qualified to participate in the second round of Democratic debates in Detroit this week, is looking to breakthrough in a crowded field. Real Clear Politics said he's polling at 0.5 percent support -- 15th in the group of 20. Front-runner Joe Biden is listed in first place, with 29.3 percent.