While the 21st century economy holds the potential for incredible growth and prosperity, the promise of these possibilities are by no means widely shared. Despite recovery efforts from the Great Recession, far too many Americans still feel vulnerable in this economy and see limited avenues for mobility.


I saw this susceptibility firsthand on a summer tour of several small towns across the country. Joined by three BPC leaders: former U.S. Senator Olympia Snowe, former Small Business Administrator Karen Mills, and former CEO of FirstMerit Bank Paul Greig, I heard the passion, concerns, and frustrations of community bankers, small business leaders, and entrepreneurs. The takeaway was simple—a lot of people feel left behind and do not believe that government offers any real solutions.


Although politicians and business leaders on both sides of the aisle proudly boast their support for Main Street, rhetorical support has not always been accompanied by meaningful action. As a result, BPC has taken our analysis and spirit of collaboration outside of the beltway and amplified our efforts to find pragmatic solutions that ease the anxiety and economic strain of Americans living on Main Street, particularly in rural communities.

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Small towns and rural areas across the country face significant challenges.

BPC is working to increase economic opportunity and security by focusing on four interrelated themes: education and workforce, entrepreneurism and job creation, energy and infrastructure, and rural health. Consistent with all our work, BPC is developing a strong base of evidence and series of specific and pragmatic recommendations that can improve the lives of millions of Americans.

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The Appalachia Initiative

The Appalachian region has long faced daunting challenges of poverty and geographic isolation. Despite improvements and decades of state and federal efforts, many communities in the Appalachian region are still being left behind.

More than Money

A well-functioning financial system has a ripple effect far beyond simply expanding the economy. Ensuring access to capital for qualified Main Street small businesses and entrepreneurs has been an area of focus for BPC.

The Opioid Crisis

While some progress has been made to decrease the number of people misusing and overdosing from prescription opioids, the increasing overdose death rates involving heroin and fentanyl indicates the epidemic is far from over.

Dialogue recently spoke with Bill Oberndorf about his philanthropic philosophy and how strategic giving can help address some of our country’s toughest challenges.

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Congress has many challenges ahead.

Congress is appropriately focused on the budget, the debt ceiling, and tax reform, but there are other critical issues moving forward in this legislative session that hold potential for meaningful bipartisan deliberation. In particular, there is uncertainty around the fate of the so-called DREAMers who deserve a legislative solution before the new year, and many parts of the country are facing long recoveries following a swath of devastating natural disasters.

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Protect DREAMers, Pass Reform

There is bipartisan agreement that DREAMers should stay. Congress should pass DACA legislation now. President Donald Trump set off the first opening for immigration legislation of this term when he terminated the Obama-era program that protected immigrants brought to the country as children.

Puerto Rico’s Disaster Recovery

Hurricane Maria made landfall on the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico just 12 days after the island has been battered by Hurricane Irma. Puerto Rico’s path to recovery will be complicated. The process may take years and will be hindered by the island’s fiscal constraints and economic conditions.

BPC Action and Others Call for Bipartisan DACA Legislation

Watch the highlights from a joint press conference featuring organizations and advocates from the left and right, pushing for Congress to find a permanent solution for DACA recipients and DREAMers before the end of the year. Learn more at: video.bpcaction.org/BipartisanDACA

Pete V. Domenici, the former six-term senator from New Mexico and long-time BPC co-chair, fellow, and friend, passed away on September 13, 2017. BPC remembers the life and achievements of our dear friend.

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Dialogue is the quarterly magazine of the Bipartisan Policy Center.
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ISSN: 2473-800X (print) 
ISSN: 2473-8018 (online).