Temple, Texas, Jun 30, 2011 -- Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced the selection of 43 community-based organizations to receive funding to promote economic growth and the selection of six rural microenterprises for loans and grants to support rural business development, create jobs and strengthen local communities.
"A strong rural America and a strong agricultural industry go hand in hand," said Vilsack. "These investments will bring increased economic opportunity to rural residents and communities. And they will help organizations expand job opportunities across the nation, part of the Obama Administration's effort to win the future."
The funding announced today is being provided through the Rural Community Development Initiative Program (RCDI) and the Rural Microentrepreneur Assistance Program (RMAP). RCDI helps community-based development organizations, federally recognized Indian tribes and other groups promote economic growth in low-income, rural communities. Recipients are required to obtain matching funds, which increase the value of the grants. The grants are awarded to public or nonprofit intermediary organizations. The funds are then provided to recipients, which must be located in eligible rural areas. RCDI funding, much of it regional in nature, underscores USDA's support of locally-led regional strategies. Recipients under the Rural Microentrepreneur Assistance Program are development organizations that make loans to microenterprises and microentrepreneurs and provide business-based training and technical assistance grants to rural microborrowers. Funding for each project is contingent upon the recipient meeting the terms of the loan and grant agreement.
In Texas, Matagorda County United Way was awarded $52,000, through the RCDI program, to provide training in three critical areas, specifically, workforce development, financial literacy (including energy efficiency) and organizational development. This training will increase knowledge, skills and opportunities needed to build community self sufficiency.
In June, the President signed an Executive Order establishing the first WHRC chaired by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. To better coordinate Federal programs and maximize the impact of Federal investment, the White House Rural Council will work throughout government to create policies to promote economic prosperity and a high quality of life in our rural communities.
Since taking office, President Obama's Administration has taken significant steps to improve the lives of rural Americans and has provided broad support for rural communities. The Obama Administration has set goals of modernizing infrastructure by providing broadband access to 10 million Americans, expanding educational opportunities for students in rural areas, and providing affordable health care. In the long term, these unparalleled rural investments will help ensure that America's rural communities are repopulating, self-sustaining, and thriving economically.
USDA, through its Rural Development mission area, administers and manages housing, business and community infrastructure and facility programs through a national network of state and local offices. Rural Development has an existing portfolio of more than $150 billion in loans and loan guarantees. These programs are designed to improve the economic stability of rural communities, businesses, residents, farmers and ranchers and improve the quality of life in rural America.
Visit www.rurdev.usda.gov for additional information about the agency's programs or to locate the USDA Rural Development office nearest you.