Administration Airs Plan For Rural America
August 15, 2011 by UPI - United Press International, Inc.
WASHINGTON, Aug. 16 (UPI) — Initiatives offered by the White House Rural Council focus on increasing access to capital, job training and healthcare services, the administration said.
“These are tough times for a lot of Americans — including those who live in our rural communities,” said President Obama said in a release announcing the initiatives Tuesday. “That’s why my administration has put a special focus on helping rural families find jobs, grow their businesses and regain a sense of economic security.”
Release of the council’s recommendations coincides with Obama’s three-day, three-state bus tour in America’s midsection. On Tuesday, he hosts a Rural Economic Forum in Peosta, Iowa.
The administration has made creating jobs and economic opportunity in rural America a priority and the council used an approach to “leverage resources across the federal government to achieve that goal,” Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said.
“By bringing new capital, job training and additional investments to our rural communities, we are working to ensure the people who live in these towns have a better, brighter future,” Vilsack said.
Capital going to rural businesses will be doubled through the Small Business Investment Company program at no cost to taxpayers, Small Business Administration Administrator Karen Mills.
“Small businesses of all kinds are thriving in rural areas where they are creating jobs of the future and helping ensure the economic stability of the middle class,” Mills said. “The Obama administration and SBA have been committed to supporting rural businesses, which drive economic growth across the country and will continue to do so through the programs announced today.”
The council’s recommendations include committing $350 million in SBA funding to rural small businesses over the next 5 years, launching a series of conferences to link private equity and venture capital investors with rural start-ups, creating capital marketing teams to advocate federal funding opportunities to private investors interested in making rural investments, making job search information available at 2,800 local USDA offices nationwide, making HHS loans 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.