The following is a statement from Matt Hildreth, Executive Director of RuralOrganizing.org:
This week, with the leadership of Rep. Derek Kilmer and lobbying and grassroots effort by RuralOrganizing.org, Congress successfully passed a critical new federal policy that establishes a new $1 billion federal block grant program at the Economic Development Agency (EDA). This new program empowers persistently distressed communities, including rural communities, with flexible 10-year "Rebuilding Economies and Creating Opportunities for More People to Excel" ( RECOMPETE) Grants to create good jobs in persistently distressed communities, including rural and Tribal communities.
For nearly two years, through our Campaign for Rural Progress, RuralOrganizing.org has focused on passing policies that increase good-paying jobs and wages, decrease daily expenses, and improve the quality of life for rural communities experiencing economic distress.
As rural people, we know that every rural community is different. Local people know best what their strengths and challenges are, and solutions should be locally-driven. For some rural communities, the barriers to job creation may be a lack of high-speed internet or our crumbling transportation infrastructure. Other communities may need more workers with skills in growing industries or job retention resources like childcare services.
The new RECOMPETE Grants are based on each communities’ level of economic distress and are developed and implemented with robust technical assistance from the EDA, in order to provide the consistent, longer-term assistance needed to execute a comprehensive, long-term economic development strategy.
RECOMPETE Grants can be used for a wide variety of purposes, including:
Business advice for small and medium-sized local businesses and entrepreneurs, such as manufacturing extension services and small business development centers.
Land and site development, such as brownfield redevelopment, research and technology parks, business incubators, business corridor development, and Main Street redevelopment.
Infrastructure and housing, such as improvements in transit, roads, broadband access, and affordable and workforce housing development.
Job training oriented to regional or local labor market needs, such as customized job training programs run by local community colleges in partnership with local businesses.
Workforce outreach programs that reach out to lower-income neighborhoods and embed job placement and training services in neighborhood institutions.
Job retention programs for support services such as job success coaches, childcare services, or transportation support.
We applaud the thousands of people in our network who took action to push for the passage of the RECOMPETE and the leadership of elected officials like Representative Kilmer and we will continue to advocate to ensure the implementation of this new program reaches the most marginalized rural communities.
It’s especially refreshing to see programs, like RECOMPETE that build economic opportunity from the bottom up, pass through legislative vehicles like the CHIPS Act which was filled with “trickle down” corporate give–a-ways that will fail to reach the most distressed and marginalized rural communities.
The mission of RuralOrganizing.org is to rebuild a rural America that is empowered, thriving, and equitable. Follow us on Twitter @RuralOrganizing.