Earlier this week, USDA Rural Development Deputy Under Secretary Doug O’Brien met with local and regional officials in Mississippi to discuss ways USDA can help businesses create jobs and stimulate local economies. Mississippi was one of the first states in the nation to be designated a StrikeForce state by USDA and last Tuesday, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture will launch its “StrikeForce” initiative in ten additional states.
The primary goal of the StrikeForce initiative is to increase partnership with rural communities and leverage community resources in targeted, persistent poverty areas. Vilsack noted that through the StrikeForce initiative, USDA will do more to partner with local and state governments and community organizations on projects that promote economic development and job creation. Read more »
USDA Rural Development Deputy Under Secretary Doug O’Brien (left) and Rural Development State Director Thomas Williams (right) review the Great Allegheny Passage trail map with David Kahley (center) of The Progress Fund. USDA photo by Dawn Bonsell
USDA Rural Development Deputy Under Secretary Doug O’Brien recently spent a few days in Pennsylvania talking with flourishing businesses in charming trail towns along the Great Allegheny Passage (GAP), a rail trail that runs from Pittsburgh to Washington D.C. Many businesses along the trail have received funding through The Progress Fund, a non-profit community development lender. The Progress Fund is the recipient of several Rural Development Business Program loans and grants which were passed on to the trail town businesses to help spur economic development in distressed rural areas. Read more »
“Back to School Week” is often the most thrilling and the hectic time for students (As a student I have experienced this first hand). The campus atmosphere is filled with excitement, expectation and the ringing of laughter. In between purchasing textbooks and memorizing course schedules students are busy reconnecting with old friends, making new ones, getting involved in campus activities and moving into their dorms. For many students in rural areas, these activities fade at the end of the day as they return home. However, there is a growing movement amongst rural community colleges to extend the college experience.
Colleges like Fulton-Montgomery Community College (FMCC) are offering dormitory housing to students. Students living on campus is common place at major colleges and universities however, is seldom seen in rural community colleges. This is changing. During a recent tour promoting “Back to School Week” Deputy Under Secretary for Rural Development Doug O’Brien discovered first hand just how so. Read more »
Late last month, Deputy Under Secretary for Rural Development Doug O’Brien visited Manning, Iowa, and participated in groundbreaking ceremonies for the new Manning Regional Healthcare Center. The new hospital, which will replace a facility that was built in 1927, is receiving a $21 million loan from USDA Rural Development.
“Rural residents must have access to the best available care, and this medical campus will provide decades of service to the residents of this region,” O’Brien said. “President Obama’s plan for rural America has brought about historic investments and resulted in stronger rural communities.”
When construction is completed, Manning Regional Healthcare Center’s new 17-bed critical access hospital will also include a physician clinic and recovery center that will provide substance abuse treatment services for up to16 patients in a partial residential setting. Read more »
Earlier this week Deputy Under Secretary for Rural Development Doug O’Brien and Congressman Bruce Braley met with nearly 30 northeast Iowa producers and residents to discuss the important role rural economic development provisions have in the upcoming discussions of the next farm, food and jobs bill.
Iowa producers and residents discuss the impact the next farm, food and jobs bill can have on rural economies with Congressman Braley (in yellow shirt at head of table) and Deputy Under Secretary O’Brien (next to flag).
O’Brien said a goal with the next farm bill is to make it easier for people to access USDA support, ensuring that emerging rural businesses have the capital they need to grow and create jobs, and investing in communities pursuing regional growth. Read more »
One of the best things about working for USDA as a deputy under secretary for Rural Development is the ability to meet with so many brilliant business leaders from around the country. Last week, at the White House, I met with dozens of folks to discuss economic development and community renewal efforts.
We talked about Regional Innovation, one of several topics the Obama Administration is emphasizing to revitalize rural areas. Improving access to capital, building out broadband, developing renewable energy and establishing regional food systems will increase productivity and economic growth in rural America. Read more »