Data Resources for Rural Prosperity Webinar

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Our Campaign for Rural Progress continues this week with a briefing to support communities experiencing economic distress through policies that increase good-paying jobs and wages, decrease daily expenses, and improve the rural quality of life. 

On Tuesday, May 9th, experts from USDA-Rural Development and the Department of the Treasury’s Bureau of the Fiscal Service joined Meadville Pennsylvania Mayor Jaime Kinder and Wheeling, West Virginia City Council Member Rosemary Ketchum to walk through federal data resources that can support small towns and rural communities.

With over eight out of ten persistent poverty counties being rural ones, and with over 60% of the residents in those high-poverty counties being people of color, we know rural communities need access to federal investments.

But over the last 50 years, efforts to deliver economic opportunities for the vast majority of rural Americans through both public programs and private philanthropy have largely failed because rural communities face barriers to accessing federal funding designed to help American communities thrive.

That’s why we here at Rural Organizing are so excited about federal investments like the recently passed RECOMPETE Pilot Program and the Rebuild Rural America Act currently gathering momentum in the legislature which support local rural leaders fighting for their communities.

The “RECOMPETE Pilot Program”

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.

Communities who see themselves in this opportunity can begin their application process by gathering input from a variety of community members, then looking at the data resources shared in our briefing to start which programs have already been implemented in that community. Local leaders can start to explore which community strengths and needs have not yet seen investments as they build a concept for the flexible federal funding.

Watch: Part I: Data Resources for Rural Prosperity – A Briefing Offered by Rural Organizing Education Fund

The new RECOMPETE Grants are based on each communities’ level of economic distress. They are developed and implemented with robust technical assistance from the EDA 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.

With the incredible leadership of thousands of people in our network and of elected officials like Representative Derek Kilmer, together we pushed for the passage of the RECOMPETE Pilot program. Now we can ensure the implementation of this new program reaches the most marginalized rural communities by making sure their leaders have the data they need. 

Through partnerships with the Rural Partners Network, USDA Rural Development, and the US Treasury’s Bureau of the Fiscal Service, we are excited to push forward solutions for small towns and rural communities so that they can access the resources they need to thrive.


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