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USDA Rural Development Officials Meet With Florida Business Owners, Farmers and Residents to Discuss Job Creation and Rural Revitalization Opportunities
Marianna, Fla., August 16, 2011 – USDA Rural Development officials met with rural business owners, farmers and citizens today to discuss ways federal, state and local officials can work together to improve economic conditions and create jobs. The meeting is part of a series of rural roundtables that are being held across the country this summer with senior Obama Administration officials on behalf of the White House Rural Council.
"The vitality of rural America is critical to the well being of this country," said Judith Canales, Administrator of USDA Rural Development's Rural Business-Cooperative Service. "Florida's economy is a critical element in the economic health of this nation. Sustaining rural communities and helping the economy grow is vital not only here in Florida, but across the country."
Canales was accompanied by Rural Development State Director Richard Machek, who noted that rural Florida communities are facing challenges that require the private sector and the public sector to work together. Throughout the state, Rural Development helps communities just like Marianna, he noted. Rural Development helped finance the Marianna farmers' market, that has become a local landmark. Rural Development is also helping farmers sell their produce locally and is bringing additional customers to the downtown business district.
The roundtables give government leaders an opportunity to hear directly from business leaders around the country about their ideas on how to grow the economy. They also are intended to educate participants about USDA programs and other federal resources that help rural businesses, residents and communities.
USDA Rural Development, for example, offers more than 40 programs to help rural residents buy or repair homes, rent affordable apartments, start or expand businesses, build or expand broadband networks, build or upgrade drinking water and wastewater systems, and provide essential services such as schools, libraries, fire and police protection, and health care facilities.
In June, President Obama signed an Executive Order establishing the first White House Rural Council, chaired by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. The Council will work throughout government to create policies to promote economic prosperity and a high quality of life in our rural communities.
Since taking office, President Obama's Administration has taken significant steps to improve the lives of rural Americans and has provided broad support for rural communities. The Obama Administration has set goals of modernizing infrastructure by providing broadband access to 10 million Americans, expanding educational opportunities for students in rural areas, and providing affordable health care. In the long term, these unparalleled rural investments will help ensure that America's rural communities are repopulating, self-sustaining and thriving economically.
USDA, through its Rural Development mission area, administers and manages housing, business and community infrastructure and facility programs through a national network of state and local offices. Rural Development has an existing portfolio of more than $155 billion in loans and loan guarantees. These programs are designed to improve the economic stability of rural communities, businesses, residents, farmers and ranchers and improve the quality of life in rural America.
USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer and lender. To file a complaint of discrimination, write: USDA, Director, Office of Civil Rights, 1400 Independence Avenue, SW, Washington, DC 20250-9410 or call (800) 795-3272 (voice), or (202) 720-6382 (TDD).