President Announces New Rural Economic Programs

Rural Council recommendations are being put into action.

Published on: Aug 16, 2011

Tuesday at the White House Rural Economic Forum President Barack Obama will announce new jobs initiatives recommended by the White House Rural Council for growing the economy and creating jobs in rural America. The Council's recommendations focus on key areas of need in rural communities - including helping rural small businesses access capital, expanding rural job search and training services and increasing rural access to health care workers and technology.

The Council's recommendations leverage existing programs and funding and includes committing $350 million in Small Business Administration funding to rural small businesses over the next five 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 Health and Human Services 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.

President Obama says these are tough times for a lot of Americans, including those who live in rural communities. That's why his administration is putting a special focus on helping rural families find jobs, grow their businesses and regain a sense of economic security. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says by bringing new capital, job training and additional investments to rural communities the administration is working to ensure those who live there have a better, brighter future.

Obama described agriculture as one of the country's great strengths at a town hall meeting in Minnesota on the first day of his Midwest bus tour, and suggested he'd have a lot to say about the plight of struggling family farmers at the rural forum in Iowa.

"One of the things that we're going to be talking about is how we can make sure to get more capital to small farmers," Obama said. "How can we help young farmers who want to go into farming be able to buy land because land prices have gone up so high."

The President committed to a strong and healthy biofuels industry during his remarks on Monday. Administration officials say he plans to make a significant renewable energy announcement during his swing through the heartland.