Washington, DC, Jun 13, 2012 -- White House Rural Council Hosts Forum on Regional Innovation
WASHINGTON, June 13, 2012 – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced today that the White House Rural Council and USDA are hosting a forum on economic development and community renewal efforts.
“Regional innovation is one of several topics President Obama is emphasizing to revitalize rural areas,” Vilsack said. “Improving access to capital, building out broadband, developing renewable energy and establishing regional food systems will increase productivity and economic growth in rural America. Today’s efforts illustrate how the Obama Administration is leveraging Rural Development’s investments to ensure that rural communities can compete in the global economy.”
The focus of the Regional Innovation in Rural America forum is to develop strategies to leverage infrastructure investments in rural communities that help create jobs and boost economic development – key elements of communities that are built to last. The forum will highlight how the federal government has supported efforts in rural regions to revitalize the economy.
For example, the Obama Administration earlier this year announced a $15 million multi-agency Rural Jobs and Innovation Accelerator challenge to spur job creation and economic growth in distressed rural communities. President Obama recently announced the challenge as part of the Administration’s “We Can’t Wait” efforts to strengthen the economy, create jobs and support business growth.
One of these efforts is the Stronger Economies Together (SET) initiative. It was launched in 2010 by USDA Rural Development and the nation’s four Regional Rural Development Centers and their land-grant university partners. SET enables rural communities and counties to work together to implement multi-county economic development blueprints that strategically build on a region’s current and emerging economic strengths. SET is now in place in nearly 40 regions in 19 states.
Also, last summer, the Obama Administration announced the Strong Cities, Strong Communities program. This is a federal initiative that builds partnerships between federal officials and local stakeholders to strengthen communities that have faced significant barriers to economic growth. The President took the initiative a bit further this spring and announced the White House Council on Strong Cities, Strong Communities. The council will recommend to the President policies and programs that can help strengthen local economies by building partnerships between local leaders and the federal government.
Since taking office, President Obama’s Administration has taken historic steps to improve the lives of rural Americans, put people back to work and build thriving economies in rural communities. From proposing the American Jobs Act to establishing the first-ever White House Rural Council – chaired by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack - the President is committed to a smarter use of existing Federal resources to foster sustainable economic prosperity and ensure the government is a strong partner for businesses, entrepreneurs and working families in rural communities.
USDA, through its Rural Development mission area, administers and manages housing, business and community infrastructure programs through a national network of state and local offices. Rural Development has an active portfolio of more than $165 billion in affordable 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.