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Programs & Opportunities

The Rural Community Empowerment Program's Guiding Principles

The Rural Community Empowerment Program is designed to afford communities real opportunities for growth and revitalization. The framework of the program is embodied in four key principles:

Economic Opportunity - The first priority in revitalizing distressed communities is to create economic opportunities- jobs and work- for all residents. The creation of jobs, both within the community and throughout the region, provides the foundation on which residents will become economically self-sufficient and communities can revitalize themselves. Opportunities for entrepreneurial initiatives, small business expansion, and training for jobs that offer upward mobility are other key elements for providing economic opportunity and direction.

Sustainable Community Development - Economic development can only be successful when part of a coordinated and comprehensive strategy that includes physical development as well as human development. A community where streets are safe to walk, the air and water are clean, housing is secure, and human services are accessible, and where a vital civic spirit is nurtured by innovative design, is a community that can be a source of strength and hope to its residents. A community where learning is a commitment for life can foster the skills, habits of mind, and attitudes that will make work rewarding and families nurturing.

The Rural Community Empowerment Program seeks to empower communities by supporting local plans that coordinate economic, physical, environmental, community, and human development.

Community-Based Partnerships - The road to economic opportunity and community development starts with broad participation by all segments of the community. The residents themselves, however, are the most important elements of revitalization. Others may include the political and governmental leadership, community groups, health and social service groups, environmental groups, religious organizations, the private and nonprofit sectors, centers of learning, and other community institutions.

Communities cannot succeed with public resources alone. Private and nonprofit support and involvements are critical to the success of a community seeking revitalization. Partners also must be created within and among the levels of government. Government departments and agencies on all levels must work together to ensure that relevant programs and resources can be used in a coordinated, flexible, and timely fashion to help implement the community's strategic plan and that regulatory and other barriers to sustainable growth are removed.

Through this program, the Federal government offers a compact with communities and State and local governments: if you plan comprehensively and strategically for real change, if the community designs and drives the course, we, the Federal government, will waive burdensome regulations whenever possible, and work with you to make our programs responsive to your plan.

Strategic Vision for Change - A bold and innovative vision for change describes what the community wants to become -- for example, the community may envision itself as a center for emerging technologies with links to a nearby university or community college; a key export center for certain farm products, customized manufacturing goods, or health and other human services; or a vibrant residential area focused around an active local school, with access to jobs, retail markets, recreation, and entertainment.

The vision for change is a comprehensive strategic map for revitalization. It is a means to analyze the full local context and the linkages to the larger region. It builds on the community's assets and coordinates its response to its needs -- such as public safety, human and social services, and environmental protection. It integrates economic, physical, environmental, community, and human development in a comprehensive and coordinated fashion so that families and communities can work together and thrive. A strategic plan also sets real goals and performance benchmarks for measuring progress and establishes a framework for assessing how new experience and knowledge can be incorporated on an on-going basis into a successful plan for revitalization.

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Last Modified:08/18/2011 
 
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