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About 120 Turn Out in Reno to Learn About Broadband Funding Opportunities

It was my pleasure as State Director of USDA Rural Development in Nevada to welcome officials from the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) and USDA’s Rural Utilities Service (a part of Rural Development) to Reno earlier this week to discuss exciting opportunities to extend broadband to unserved and underserved parts of the United States.

As President Obama said in his State of the Union Address, “In this country, the success of our children cannot depend more on where they live than on their potential.” Broadband will extend improved educational opportunities to rural America’s schools, including those located on Tribal lands.  Creating jobs is a top priority of this administration, and the infrastructure to be constructed with the $4.8 billion in loan and grant funds being made available through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act will assist communities as they work to attract new business opportunities.

The President was clear in his message, “There are projects … all across this country that will create jobs and help move our nation’s goods, services, and information.” Nothing moves information better than broadband.  Whether it is a crop report, weather data, hospital files, security information or just a recipe for a new cookie recipe that a budding business owner will use to start a venture, broadband is indispensible.  Here in Nevada it will enable a painter or craft maker to sell goods over the Internet to buyers not only on the East Coast, but in Eastern Europe, and around the world.

There will be a series of additional broadband workshops across the nation over the next few weeks.  The schedule includes the following stops: January 29, Denver; February 1, San Antonio, TX; February 2, Eureka, MO; February 4, Sioux Falls, SD; February 5, Detroit, MI; February 9, Blacksburg, VA; February 11, Fayetteville, NC; and February 12, Atlanta, GA.  If you want more information go to:  http://www.broadbandusa.gov.

USDA Rural Utilities Service Administrator Jonathan Adelstein

USDA Rural Utilities Service Administrator Jonathan Adelstein discusses broadband funding opportunities through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act during a meeting in Reno

USDA Rural Development Nevada State Director Sarah Adler

USDA Rural Development Nevada State Director Sarah Adler welcomes attendees to the broadband workshop

Submitted by Sarah Adler, State Director, USDA Rural Development, Nevada

Rural Development Recovery Act Road Show Rolls Through a Newton, Illinois Bowling Alley

Things were “rolling” at Park Lanes in Newton, Illinois Thursday morning for Rural Development’s Road Show.  This was our fifth Road Show where we shared how the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) can help do what’s needed in rural communities.  This time we met with “scores” of our east central Illinois neighbors at a restaurant and bowling alley where everyone “spared” no time in asking questions.

The amazing thing in Newton was the quality of ideas and the questions we heard, both during the presentation and when our specialists met informally with our guests to talk about things like building expansions and storm sirens.

In Round Two of our Road Shows (four previously held last November) we had something new to talk about…the ARRA funding set aside for public libraries. Illinois has a network of 641 libraries, and ARRA will make it possible to make repairs and improvements, expand or construct a needed new building, or buy the equipment needed to deliver services.   We also added information about the second round of funding for Broadband deployment and the  ”Know Your Farmer Know Your Food” initiative.  By the time we got back to our offices, the phones were ringing with more questions about how we can help.

I want to thank Ken Larimore (Jasper Co.) and Barbara Webster (Crawford Co.) with the U of I Extension for their help, leadership and commitment to economic development.  We also had support from Rosie Gibbons, director of Effingham County Extension.  To the county board chairmen and members, mayors and city managers, and others who participated, thank you for taking the time to learn how USDA Rural Development can help improve your communities.  We had a “striking” exchange at Park Lanes, and I look forward to “getting the ball rolling” in many area communities.

A large group attended a “Recovery Act Roadshow” in Newton, Illinois.

A large group attended a “Recovery Act Roadshow” in Newton, Illinois.

Submitted by Illinois State Director Colleen Callahan

60 Turn Out For Jobs Forum in Washington State

About 60 people representing business, banking, government, Native American Tribes, and general citizenry throughout western Washington, attended a public forum on jobs and economic growth on the evening of Jan. 26, at the Cowlitz Regional Conference Center in Longview, Washington. Read more »

USDA Invests Millions to Promote Family Nutrition and Encourage Children to Make Healthy Food Choices

President Obama and Secretary Vilsack have made providing our children with healthier, more nutritious meals a top priority. Good nutrition is not only vital to the long-term health of children; it is an integral part of improving academic performance, and ensuring that future generations will be competitive in a global economy.

That is why Secretary Vilsack is committed to the President’s goal of investing $10 billion over 10 years to improve the Child Nutrition Programs to improve access, and to enhance the quality of the meals and the health of the whole school environment.  It is why USDA is working to implement the Institute of Medicine’s suggestions to upgrade school meal requirements to enhance nutritional value.  And we are also working to eliminate barriers that keep eligible families from enrolling in our nutrition programs.

Secretary Vilsack also joined Michelle Obama at the White House to re-launch the HealthierUS School Challenge, expanding it to include middle school and high school students. The Challenge will motivate schools to serve healthier meals, conduct nutrition education and promote physical activity. To further promote the importance of staying active, the USDA signed a partnership with the NFL and the National Dairy Council to support the “Fuel Up and Play 60” campaign.

The Agriculture Marketing Service and Food Nutrition Service also worked together to provide fresh-cut apple products via the National School Lunch Program. Five states, including California and New York, have already ordered millions of pounds of apples. By December 2010, school districts in 10 states will be serving fresh-cut apples. The success of the program has allowed AMS to expand their fresh-cut offers to include carrots.

USDA’s nutrition assistance programs touch 1 in 5 Americans each year.  Currently more than 37 million Americans receive benefits through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) to help them purchase nutritious food, which also helps stimulate the economy by supporting grocery stores, truck drivers, and American farmers.  In fact, every $1 spent on SNAP benefits generates over $1.84 in economic activity.

More than 13 million people eligible for SNAP benefits don’t participate. Even a small increase in the number of Americans participating in the Program will generate billions of dollars in economic activity while providing children with safe, nutritious food. If you or someone you know may be eligible for SNAP, ask them to apply online on the SNAP Application website.

In 2009, USDA made tremendous headway in providing families, children, and schools the choice to eat healthier. In the coming months and years, we look forward to continuing to help Americans lead healthy, prosperous lives.

Dozens Turn Out to Share Ideas on Stimulating the Economy and Creating Jobs in Kentucky

Despite unexpected snowfall and cold temperatures, more than 50 people participated in a forum on jobs creation in Kentucky on the campus of Eastern Kentucky University on Tuesday. Read more »

USDA Led Forum Works to Create a Blueprint for Job Creation in Wisconsin

Nearly 80 people gathered at Chippewa Valley Technical College in Eau Claire, Wis. to participate in the Forum for the Future . . . Pathways to Wisconsin Job Creation event.

The job forum, co-hosted by USDA Rural Development, Chippewa Valley Technical College and USDA Farm Service Agency, primarily focused on generating ideas and creating a blueprint to help initiate job growth in Wisconsin.

Panelists and attendees, together, explored ways to rejuvenate and promote local businesses; creating jobs by rebuilding  and improving infrastructure; supporting job growth among small businesses; preparing workers for today’s job market; and the sustainability of Wisconsin jobs, specifically in the energy sector.

“USDA Rural Development is committed to facilitating sustainable job growth in Wisconsin with partners like Chippewa Valley Technical College; and with all the wonderful ideas produced by this forum, I believe we’re off to a good start,” said Stan Gruszynski, USDA Rural Development State Director.  “The Federal Government is working diligently to create jobs and having input from community leaders is vital to the proceeding steps we take.”

Panelists at the Wisconsin job forum Include:

Stan Gruszynski, State Director, USDA Rural Development as the Moderator; Bruce Barker, President, Chippewa Valley Technical College; Brad Pfaff, State Director, Farm Service Agency; Steve Blodgett, District Director, WI Department of Workforce Development; Tom Lyon, Senior Policy Advisor, WI Department of Agriculture, Trade & Consumer Protection; Greg Nycz, Executive Director, Family Health Center of Marshfield, Inc.; Mary Patoka, Executive Director, CAP Services; John Rosenow, Wisconsin Dairyman and Small Business Owner; Scott Schultz, Executive Director, Wisconsin Farmers Union; Mike Stifter, Director of Facilities, UW River Falls Sustainability Institute; and Rick Terrien, Executive Director, Iowa County Economic Development Corporation.

Attendees of the job forum, from feedback gathered almost unanimously, agreed that the event was informational and will ultimately help to generate a focus on future job creation for the state of Wisconsin. Numerous positive comments, ideas, and suggestions were received.

Critical elements for Wisconsin’s rural economy and job market, according to the attendees are; next generation interest and retention in rural areas and in agriculture, taking advantage of new technologies, better paying jobs, increased education and training, and knowledge of financial resources offered by local, state and federal agencies.  Additional concerns include access to needed healthcare and the availability of credit lending to small businesses and entrepreneurs.

The recommendations and information from the forum will be compiled into a formal report and submitted to the White House; as well as sent to USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack, Wisconsin Congressional and Senatorial Representatives, and attendees.

Job forum Wisonsin

Stan Gruszynski, USDA Rural Development State Director, addresses the attendees at the job forum held at Chippewa Valley Technical College Gateway Campus in Eau Claire Tuesday.

Job forum Wisconsin

Tom Lyon, left, Wisconsin Dept. of Agriculture Trade and Consumer Protection, speaks with Bruce Barker and Diane Pavelski of Chippewa Valley Technical College before the job forum started Tuesday morning.

Submitted by: Kelly Edwards, Wisconsin Public Information Coordinator, USDA Rural Development

To view a recording of the Eau Claire jobs forum go to: http://www.cvtc.edu/videos/asx/events/usda-forum.asx

To learn more, go to the Rural Development and FSA Job Roundtables Schedule, and the News Release, “USDA to Host Roundtables on Jobs, Economic Growth