Cross posted from the Small Business Administration Blog:
Today, I attended a meeting of the White House Rural Council, which focused on our coordinated response to historic drought conditions that are affecting communities across Rural America.
Our goal at the SBA and across the Administration is making sure that these hard hit communities have the tools and the resources they need to navigate and recover from these severe drought conditions.
To date, the SBA has issued 71 agency drought declarations in 32 states covering more than 1,630 counties. These declarations allow small businesses, small agricultural cooperatives and non-farm small businesses that are economically affected by the drought in their community to apply for SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL). Read more »
A truck is filled with wood chips as part of the process of turning wood into energy
Cross posted from the White House CEQ blog:
Across rural America, biomass like wood pellets and wood chips is helping communities diversify their energy sources, create jobs, and save money on utility bills. At the Forest Service, we are working to support biomass projects that help us manage wildfire threats, and also serve as economic engines for rural communities. Last week, USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack announced grants of $4 million for renewable wood energy projects that will provide 20 small businesses, tribes and community groups with the technical engineering and design services they need to explore installing wood heat and electricity projects. Read more »
The U.S. Forest Service recently announced nearly $4 million in grants to help develop affordable woody biomass energy in rural communities. The facilities will use wood pellets such as those pictured here. Thinkstock
The U.S. Forest Service recently announced the award of nearly $4 million in grants for wood energy projects around the country to help expand regional economies and create new jobs. The grants, totaling $3.9 million, will be distributed to 20 small businesses, tribes and community groups to develop renewable energy projects. Read more »
This has been an important week for the White House Rural Council – a partnership between multiple Federal agencies, created by President Obama last year to focus and coordinate our efforts to create jobs in rural America and support American agriculture.
We marked the one-year anniversary of the Council on June 11; and on the same day, the Rural Council released a report alongside the White House Council of Economic Advisors and USDA that notes significant progress in our efforts to grow the rural economy. But President Obama and I also know that there’s more to be done. Read more »
Rural communities are the backbone of our nation’s economy. This past year, food and agriculture exports from rural America reached their highest levels ever and the industry supported more than 1.15 million American jobs. America’s agricultural trade surplus also reached record levels. This is partly the result of a comprehensive rural strategy implemented to spur innovation, increase export levels, invest in clean energy, and expand opportunities for rural enterprises on and off the farm that create jobs. In the last few years, USDA Rural Development’s Community Facilities Program and our Business and Industry Guarantee program has created jobs and has helped millions of rural Americans address essential challenges in health care, education, public service and public safety. And now we want to hear YOUR voice.
On the heels of the 1 year anniversary of the White House Rural Council, and to celebrate National Homeownership Month, I will host the 3rd installment of Virtual Office Hours. The topic will be economic development in our nation’s rural communities, including the great strides that have been made in agricultural economy and the important role housing plays in creating jobs, maintaining viable rural communities, and contributing to the economy. Read more »
Earlier this month (April 17th) Dr. Catherine Woteki, USDA chief scientist and Under Secretary for USDA’s Research, Education and Economics mission area, facilitated a White House Rural Council roundtable meeting at North Iowa Area Community College (NIACC) in Mason City, Iowa.
One of the key topics of discussion during the roundtable, which was attended by more than 40 local business owners and students, focused on the variety of ways community colleges can help create new job opportunities, especially in rural areas.
One week before her visit to NIACC, USDA announced the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the American Association of Community Colleges that highlights a key White House Rural Council goal to expand access to training and higher education for rural citizens and strengthen the rural economy. Read more »