WASHINGTON, D.C. (USDA) – The White House today announced the establishment of the first White House Rural Council. While rural communities face challenges, they also present economic potential. To address these challenges, build on the Administration's rural economic strategy, and improve the implementation of that strategy, the President signed an Executive Order establishing the White House Rural Council.
"Strong rural communities are key to a stronger America," said President Barack Obama. "That's why I've established the White House Rural Council to make sure we're working across government to strengthen rural communities and promote economic growth."
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 Secretary of Agriculture 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," said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. "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."
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 America
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 health care 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 America
Infrastructure: Coordinate investment in critical infrastructure
Ecosystem markets: Expanding opportunities for conservation, outdoor opportunities and economic growth on working lands and public lands
Since taking office, President Obama's Administration has taken significant steps to improve the lives of rural Americans and has provided broad support for rural communities. 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 health care. In the long term, these unparalleled rural investments will help ensure that America's rural communities are repopulating, self-sustaining, and thriving economically.