At the White House Rural Forum convened at Pennsylvania State University, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced $32 million in loans and grants that will promote economic development and provide access to broadband in more than 80 rural American communities. According to Nebraska Ag Connection, Nebraska received more than $1 million for three economic development projects.
Nebraska Ag Connection reports that Stanton County Public Power District in Stanton, will receive a $300,000 Rural Economic Development Grant to assist Pilger Development Fund purchase equipment and furnishings for a new community center that will provide additional services to the community. This project will create two jobs in a community of 352.
The Nebraska Enterprise Fund in Oakland, will receive a $250,000 Rural Microentrepreneur Assistance Program loan to capitalize a revolving loan fund to make loans of $50,000 or less to rural microentrepreneurs and microenterprises statewide, according to Nebraska Ag Connection.
It also reports Rural Investment Corporation in Lyons, will receive a $500,000 Intermediary Relending Program loan to establish a revolving loan fund in 24 counties in Nebraska where the median household income is below the state average. This project is expected to assist at least six businesses, creating or retaining 14 full-time equivalent jobs.
Vilsack, who is chair of the first-ever White House Rural Council, convened the forum with rural policy, business and nonprofit leaders to discuss pertinent issues facing rural communities, including opportunities for economic growth and strategies for improving health care and housing.
“This funding will provide much-needed capital and bring cutting-edge technology to rural communities across the country,” Vilsack said. “Investments in our rural businesses and communities, coupled with extending high-speed broadband, have led to a resurgence of economic development, created jobs and improved the quality of life in rural America. While we have made great progress, our work to extend capital and technology to rural America is not done.”
Significant gains have been made across rural America: Rural household income climbed 3.4 percent in 2015, overall poverty and food insecurity fell dramatically, rural populations have begun to rebound, non-metro areas have added more than 250,000 jobs since 2014, and the share of rural Americans without health insurance is now at an all-time low.
The White House Rural Council, established by President Obama in 2011, coordinates the Administration’s efforts in rural America by streamlining and improving the effectiveness of federal programs, engaging stakeholders on priority issues, and coordinating private-sector partnerships to create economic opportunity and improve the quality of life.
With this funding, USDA is investing in 86 projects through the Rural Economic Development Loan and Grant program, the Rural Microentrepreneur Assistance Program, the Intermediary Relending Program, the Rural Business Development Grant Program and the