Rural Economic and Community Development
The Obama Administration and USDA have made historic investments in America's rural communities, helping create jobs today while building thriving economies for the long term.
Growing Small Businesses and Supporting Community Development
- Provided nearly 19,000 grants and loans to help approximately 78,000 rural small businesses grow, creating or saving more than 390,000 jobs.
- Invested in more than 6,600 critical community facilities projects. Among those projects were approximately 1,000 education facilities, 500 libraries, 1,300 health care facilities, and 4,000 public safety facilities.
- Helped more than 900,000 rural families buy, repair or refinance a home, and provided funding for more than 3,000 multifamily housing developments.
Investing in Critical Infrastructure
- Invested in more than 7,500 distance learning and telemedicine opportunities, improving the availability of quality health care and education in rural America.
- Invested in new and improved broadband service to 1.4 million rural residents, which expands access to state-of-the-art health care, educational and cultural resources and provides the opportunity for local businesses to compete in the global economy.
- Helped improve and modernize rural electric infrastructure for over 8.6 million rural residents and businesses with funding for more than 158,500 miles of electric line. Also invested in renewable energy, smart grid technology and air quality improvement technologies.
- Provided more than 7,000 loans and grants for water and waste water community infrastructure projects to help safeguard the health of 14.5 million rural residents and create or save 150,000 jobs.
Promoting New Strategies for Economic Growth
- To support rural counties suffering from poverty on a persistent basis, USDA established the StrikeForce for Rural Growth and Opportunity Initiative to better coordinate efforts and promote economic development in these areas. It has now expanded to 770 counties and target areas in 20 states around the country. Since inception in 2010, USDA has partnered with more than 500 organizations on 109,000 projects ranging from farm and home loans to hoop houses and summer feeding programs that have ushered $13.7 billion in investments for the poorest places in rural America. In 2014, a total of 3,512 jobs have been created, saved or retained through USDA's Rural Development efforts in StrikeForce areas.
- In 2014, USDA and its partners created 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.
- Agriculture Secretary Vilsack chairs President Obama's White House Rural Council a first-of-its-kind effort to help build on the Administration's robust economic strategy for rural America and make sure that continued federal investments in rural communities create maximum benefit for rural Americans. The Council is working to break down silos and find areas for better collaboration and improved flexibility in government programs and works closely with local governments, non-profits and private companies to leverage federal support.
- USDA supports locally-led regional efforts across the nation so that rural places can use the region's assets to collaborate, increase productivity and create a more vibrant future. USDA is currently working with over 50 such regions through our Great Regions effort and other programs. And we are working collaboratively to support the regional work of other federal agencies through the Partnership for Sustainable Communities.
- Worked across the federal government to increase access to capital for firms in rural communities, including co-hosting regional roundtables with the Small Business Administration and reforming administrative processes to increase the use of community development finance institutions.