Rural Economic and Community Development | USDA
USDA In Facebook USDA In Twitter Google+ USDA Blog USDA In Youtube USDA govdelivery USDA In Flickr USDA RSS
Stay Connected

Rural Economic and Community Development

The Obama Administration and USDA have made historic investments in America's rural communities, helping create ladders of opportunity for rural people and building thriving rural economies for the long term.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack chairs the White House Rural Council, a first-of-its-kind effort to help build on the Administration's robust economic strategy for rural America. The Council works closely with local governments, non-profits and private companies to find areas for better collaboration and leverage support for projects that drive job growth, invest in rural education, provide emergency services, and address health disparities.

Growing Small Businesses and Supporting Community Development

  • Helped more than 89,000 rural small businesses grow through grant and loan support, creating or saving more than 420,000 jobs.
  • Helped more than 900,000 rural families buy-many for the first time-repair or refinance a home. Provided funding for more than 3,000 multifamily housing developments.
  • Invested in more than 6,600 critical community facilities projects, including 1,200 education facilities, 380 libraries, 780 health care facilities, and 2,800 public safety facilities.
  • Leveraged $5.2 billion in third party funds through public-private partnerships to build 62,669 units to revitalize our rental housing investment in rural communities.

Investing in Critical Infrastructure

  • Improved the availability of quality health care and education in rural America by investing in more than 7,200 educational and health care facilities through the Distance Learning and Telemedicine Program.
  • Brought new or improved broadband service to 1.49 million rural residents, which expands access to state-of-the-art health care, educational and cultural resources, and gives rural businesses the connectivity they need to compete in the global economy.
  • Improved and modernized rural electric infrastructure that serves over 8.6 million rural residents and businesses and funded for more than 158,500 miles of electric line. In addition, we have made strategic investments in renewable energy, smart grid technology and air quality improvement technologies.
  • Brought clean drinking water and better waste water management to 14.5 million rural residents through 7,000 loans and grants for water and waste water community infrastructure projects. These investments helped to create or save approximately 150,000 jobs.

Promoting New Strategies for Economic Growth

  • Through its Rural Opportunity Investment initiative, USDA continues to seek out ways to make the connection between the demand for investment in rural areas and the financial community, including:
    1. In 2014, USDA and its partners announced a new $150 million investment fund that will help propel the growth of small businesses across rural America. The new Rural Business Investment Company (RBIC) will allow private equity investments in agriculture-related businesses, including bio-manufacturing, advanced energy production, local and regional food systems, improved farming technologies and other cutting-edge fields.
    2. In 2014, we also worked with CoBank, a national cooperative bank and member of the Farm Credit System, to announce a $10 billion rural infrastructure fund. This fund is supported entirely by private sector dollars with an initial investment from CoBank. The Fund and this approach compliment USDA's own investments and offer a sustainable platform for new kinds of investors to inject new, private money into rural infrastructure projects.
  • Despite USDA's investments, there are parts of rural America where persistent poverty remains. In fact, nearly 85 percent of America's persistent poverty counties are in rural areas. In order to address the challenges faced by those communities and help them prosper, in 2010, USDA established the StrikeForce for Rural Growth and Opportunity Initiative, a broad commitment to grow economies, increase investments and create opportunities in poverty-stricken rural communities through intensive outreach and stronger partnerships with community organizations. Through StrikeForce, USDA has now partnered with almost 500 community and faith-based organizations, businesses, foundations, universities and other groups to support 109,000 projects with almost $14 billion in investments in rural communities.