The Obama administration announced three initiatives to strengthen the economy, create jobs and support business growth in rural America.  Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack said, “The actions we are taking will bring new economic investments to our rural communities, to ensure the people who live in these towns have a better, brighter future.”  The three actions are recommendations from the White House Rural Council.  They include:

  • Promoting a bioeconomy:  President Barack Obama issued a Presidential Memorandum directing the federal government to take decisive steps to dramatically increase the purchase of biobased products over the next two years.  This will create jobs and drive innovations where biobased products are grown and manufactured.  This will result in a 50% increase in the number of biobased new products.
  • Rural jobs accelerator: The Rural Jobs Accelerator is a national competition that will provide about $15 million for projects that promote innovation-fueled, regional job creation.  The competition will combine funding from the USDA, the Economic Development Administration (EDA), Delta Regional Authority and the Appalachian Regional Commission. Additionally, this approach will require multiple agencies to coordinate technical assistance and grant/loan programs so that potential rural customers have a single access point within the federal government to mobilize the resources of the government to help a region of the country.
  • Rural Health Information Technology Workforce: The Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Labor signed a memorandum of understanding to connect community and technical colleges that support rural communities with the materials and resources they need to support the training of health information technology (HIT) professionals that work in rural hospitals and clinics.