Start talking now to advertisers about HR 7640

Jay Dickerson

Sep 1, 2020

There’s legislation that could benefit businesses in every small newspaper market in this country.

If you’re not familiar with HR 7640, you should be. Tonda Rush has an excellent piece on, detailing the specifics.

If signed in to law, HR 7640:

  • gives taxpayers up to $250 a year in tax credits to pay for their local newspaper subscriptions;
  • aids salary support for journalists, 50% of salaries in the first year and 30% in subsequent years, up to $12,500 per quarter; and
  • reimburses advertisers for local ads, 80% of the cost in year one up to $5,000 and 50 percent in subsequent years up to $2,500.

That last bullet point is key. It’s is a great way to engage your customers and show that your local newspaper is advocating on their behalf.


If I walked in to any business and handed the owner $5,000 to advertise in the local paper, they’d take it.

HR 7640 is no different. Businesses stand to show monster gains with this legislation.

If approved, a small business can see credits of up to $5,000 the first year and $2,500 each year after, for four years.

How many plumbers in your market run a business-card-sized ad every week or every other week? With HR 7640, they could double their ad presence and their results.

How many restaurants run something that lists their logo, location and hours? With HR 7640, they could start running their weekly specials, or even full menus.

How many organizations run just a small ad promoting an annual event? With HR 7640, they could start running full-page ads in the issues leading up to the event, increasing attendance.

Small businesses have the opportunity to increase their ad buy. Businesses that aren’t currently doing any advertising can start making the plunge into the world of print marketing, secure in the knowledge that: 1) the ad will reach their target and 2) the marketing costs come right back to them in the form of an ad credit.


The pandemic shut down events and made it difficult for local chambers of commerce to show member benefits. For the foreseeable future, it’s impossible to safely do large-scale fairs and business showcases in person.

This is where you come in. Approach your local chamber of commerce with HR 7640 and ask if the chamber board would be willing to advocate on behalf of small businesses.

Most local chambers are made up solely of small businesses. Advocating for the growth of small businesses is well within the wheelhouse of almost every chamber.

I brought HR 7640 to my local chamber in August, asking if the organization would write to our U.S. representative, noting our support of this important bill. The chamber was unanimous in its support, and less than a day later, I was helping the Chamber president draft the letter.

I wrote a letter on behalf of our newspaper to the U.S. representative, as well. The more diverse voices advocating for this, the better the chance of it passing. For a solid draft letter, visit and take some direction from the piece Tonda put together. Personalize that; make it your own. Show legislators how HR 7640 stands to benefit small businesses.

Please note: HR 7640 could change. By the time it’s signed into law, its three benefits could change substantially. In its current form, however, it provides a needed boost to small businesses — newspapers included.


If HR 7640 is signed in to law, follow up with the businesses and organizations that helped support it. Remind them of the strength of the printed word. Develop sound marketing plans, and help them to see the strength of print marketing.

But none of that can be done unless HR 7640 is signed into law.

It’s up to you to contact advertisers. Make them aware of this legislation. Engage chambers. Reach out to legislators.

Let’s get HR 7640 approved.

Jay Dickerson is the advertising manager of The Galena (Illinois) Gazette. On Friday, Oct. 2, check out his sessions at the NNA convention, including Podcasting at 1:40 p.m. and Niche Publications at 4:05 p.m. He promises not to mention HR 7640.