White House Announces New Rural Jobs Initiative

At the White House Rural Economic Forum on August 16, President Obama announced a broad new agenda for rural job creation based on recommendations from the White House Rural Council.  The Council identified increasing small businesses access to capital through a program at the Small Business Administration (SBA) , expanding rural job search and training services, and increasing rural access to health care workers and technology as key goals in creating their plan.

In a press release from the United States Department of Agriculture, Secretary Tom Vilsack said, “The funding we are announcing today will help rural communities remain attractive places for job creation and business expansion.  The Obama administration and USDA are committed to ensuring that rural communities remain economically competitive by offering residents access to quality health care services, modern library facilities and school buildings, and reliable emergency equipment and services.  Financing totaling nearly $55 million in loans and grants will support 107 projects through USDA Rural Development’s Community Facilities Program. Eligible projects include essential community facilities for public use in rural areas such as fire protection, safety, health care, education and other community needs.”

The White House plan outlines leveraging existing programs and funding, including committing $350 million in SBA funding to rural small businesses over the next 5 years,  launching a series of conferences to connect private equity and venture capital investors with rural start ups, creating capital marketing teams to pitch federal funding opportunities to private investors interested in making rural investments, making job search information available at 2,800 local USDA offices nationwide, making loans through the Department of Health and Human Services available to help more than 1,300 Critical Access Hospitals recruit additional staff, and helping rural hospitals purchase software and hardware to implement health IT.

The read the full announcement and outline, click here.

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