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economic development administration

President Obama Renews Charge to Help Rural Companies and Communities Compete Globally

Cross-posted from the Department of Commerce blog:

Yesterday, President Obama announced new commitments in the “Made in Rural America” export and investment initiative, which is charged with bringing together federal trade-related resources for rural communities and businesses. This announcement reflects the Administration’s strategy for ensuring workers and businesses of all sizes, from communities large and small, benefit from the nation’s economic resurgence.

The Department of Commerce also released data yesterday that show 26 states set new export records in 2014, and many of those states are in the nation’s heartland.

Bringing Federal Partners to the Local Foods Table

Three years ago this fall, Secretary Vilsack and I launched the Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food initiative (KYF2).  Since then, we’ve seen interest and participation in local and regional food systems grow beyond anything we expected: whether I’m meeting with buffalo ranchers from the Great Plains or with members of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, I hear about efforts to connect producers and consumers locally and interest in how USDA can help.

In meetings of the White House Rural Council, which has representatives from across the federal government, regional food systems have been a key part of discussions.

USDA, Other Federal Partners, Meet with Tribal Leaders at Alaska’s Capital

Last month, representatives of several federal agencies held a meeting with the federally recognized tribes in Southeast Alaska. The meeting, in Alaska’s capital city of Juneau, was the fifth in a series of government-to-government Tribal Collaboration Meetings scheduled with tribes in Alaska. The venue for the meeting between federal officials and tribal leaders was the Central Council of Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska Vocational Training and Resource Center.

Tribal representatives and other partners from the region used the session to discuss issues affecting their villages. Leaders from USDA Rural Development, the Natural Resources Conservation Service, Farm Service Agency, the U.S. Forest Service, Small Business Administration, Housing and Urban Development, the Economic Development Administration (EDA), and Intertribal Agriculture Council were on hand to listen and participate in the dialogue.

A Year after Devastating Floods, the Missouri River Corridor is ‘‘Open for Business’’

How does a community, business owner, tourist attraction, farmer, homeowner go on after the disastrous 2011 Missouri River flood?  At a news conference on May 17, the message was clear: it took determination, community strength and perseverance. With great pride, communities and businesses announced that the Missouri River “MINK” Corridor is “Open for Business”.

The news conference was hosted by a coalition of communities and organizations in the states of Missouri, Iowa, Nebraska and Kansas (MINK).  The members are in counties two deep on either side of the river. MINK knows no borders crossing county and state lines, and is helping each other in community development efforts. The genesis for MINK was a Midwest meeting in Madison, Wis. in May, 2010, hosted by the Partnership for Rural America through an agreement with USDA Rural Development.

The Link Between Rural and Urban Americans

Earlier this week I had the opportunity to speak before a group of city and town planners at a forum hosted by the American Planning Association.  Before I spoke I asked the crowd to raise their hands if they had worked in a community of less than 50,000 population.  To my surprise, three-quarters of audience raised a hand.

When I then asked for people to keep their hands raised if they worked in communities under 20,000, and close to half the hands were still up.

It was another reminder that people who live and work in rural communities are highly engaged—enough so to attend a conference here in Washington D.C.—and intent on exploring solutions for small towns and rural areas.