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The White House Rural Council was established to help rural communities thrive.
While rural communities face challenges, they also present economic potential. To address these challenges, build on the federal government’s rural economic strategy and improve the implementation of that strategy, President Obama signed an executive order on June 9, 2011, establishing the White House Rural Council, a board that will promote the well-being of rural communities.
The White House Rural Council will coordinate programs across government to encourage public-private partnerships to promote further economic prosperity and quality of life in rural communities nationwide. Chaired by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, the council will be responsible for providing recommendations for investment in rural areas and will coordinate federal engagement with a variety of rural stakeholders, including agricultural organizations, small businesses, and state, local and tribal governments.
“Rural America makes significant contributions to the security, prosperity and economic strength of our country,” Vilsack says. “The Rural Council announced by President Obama shows his continued focus on promoting economic opportunity, creating jobs and enhancing the quality of life for those who live in rural America. Together with the rest of the Obama administration, USDA has worked to support families and businesses in rural communities so that their success will pay dividends for all Americans.”
Rural communities are also leading the way in finding clean and sustainable solutions to current energy challenges, according to EPA administrator Lisa P. Jackson.
“I’ve traveled from Georgia to Iowa to California to speak face-to-face with rural communities, hear their concerns and see their innovative ideas at work,” Jackson says. “This council will help us build on our efforts here at EPA to better engage all communities in the vital work of protecting our environment and our health.”
In the coming months, the White House Rural Council will focus on job creation and economic development by increasing the flow of capital to rural areas, promoting innovation, expanding digital and physical networks, and celebrating opportunity through America’s natural resources. The council will begin discussing key factors for growth, including:
- Jobs: Improve job training and workforce development in rural communities
- Agriculture: Expand markets for agriculture, including regional food systems and exports
- Access to Credit: Increase opportunity by expanding access to capital in rural communities and fostering local investment
- Innovation: Promote the expansion of biofuels production capacity and community-based renewable-energy projects
- Networks: Develop high-growth regional economies by capitalizing on inherent regional strengths
- Health care: Improve access to quality healthcare through expansion of health-technology systems
- Education: Increase post-secondary enrollment rates and completion for rural students
- Broadband: Support the President’s plan to increase broadband opportunities in rural communities
- Infrastructure: Coordinate investment in critical rural infrastructure
- Ecosystem markets: Expanding opportunities for conservation, outdoor opportunities and economic growth on working lands and public lands
Since taking office, 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 healthcare. In the long term, these unparalleled rural investments will help ensure that America’s rural communities are repopulating, self-sustaining and thriving economically.