News Release
Release No.STELPRD4021857
Temple, Texas, Aug 20, 2013 --

@@The U.S. Department of Agriculture invites counties and communities in the Texas Panhandle Plains to participate in a regional economic development initiative launched by USDA Rural Development and the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service.

Stronger Economies Together (SET) will help rural communities capitalize on the strengths of the region to create jobs, wealth and economic development. Facilitated planning meetings and technical assistance included in SET will help communities develop and implement specific actions aligned with regional goals and assets.

As a result of the new economic environment, many rural communities need new methods and strategies to ensure they survive and thrive in the future. Leveraging local resources through regional collaboration is often an effective strategy to increase effectiveness of economic development efforts. It also positions rural communities to take advantage of new opportunities and to manage growth in spite of facing limited resources.

“The SET program is designed to help multi-county teams strengthen their knowledge, skills, and resources for collaborating as a region to pursue economic development goals,” said Rural Development State Director Paco Valentin. “Participants will learn how to build a strong regional team and create plans and projects for achieving economic success. Program leaders will also provide technical assistance designed to help teams utilize the latest research, demographic and economic data, and regional resources to identify and pursue economic opportunities that will enhance the region’s overall level of income, employment, and quality of life.”

The SET program began in 2010 in eight states and, due to its success, is now available in 19 states—including Texas. Since it began, nearly 40 multi-county regions have received technical assistance to accomplish their regional projects.

Applications from rural regions desiring to reap the benefits of working with the Texas SET Team to implement a regional economic development plan are currently being accepted. Completed applications must be submitted electronically to Rebekka Dudensing at by October 1, 2013. To qualify, the regional team must have members from a minimum of three counties and be predominantly rural as defined in the application.

Applications can be obtained by contacting Rebekka Dudensing at or on the web at or (scroll down to the Texas application). There is no application fee, however, selected applicants should be prepared to provide some minor local logistical support for workshop meetings. Two regions will be selected in Texas and announced by December 31, 2013.

Regional teams will receive the following: 1) an understanding of the critical drivers of their region and the emerging growth sectors and regional competitive advantages; 2) help in developing innovative approaches to strengthening regional economic development; 3) technical assistance and educational support from USDA Rural Development staff and economic development specialists with the Texas AgriLife Extension Service; 4) opportunities to share information with SET program participants from other states.

If you have questions regarding the application process for the Stronger Economies Together program in Texas, please contact one of the following individuals:

Leon Carey, USDA Rural Development or

Rebekka Dudensing, Texas AgriLife Extension

USDA Rural Development serves as the lead federal agency for rural development needs by offering financial and technical assistance to individuals, businesses, and communities. For more information on programs offered by USDA Rural Development, contact the Texas State Office at (254) 742-9700 or visit its website at

The Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service, a state agency within the Texas A&M University System, seeks to improve the lives of people, businesses, and communities across Texas through high quality, relevant education. For specific programs available in the area of community and economic development, please visit its website at