Obama administration announces new rural jobs initiative

The Obama administration announced new job initiatives in Peosta Tuesday that have been recommended by the White House Rural Council. The initiatives are specifically geared toward growing the economy and creating jobs in rural America.

The Council’s recommendations focus on key areas of need in rural communities, including helping rural small businesses access capital, expanding rural job search and training services, and increasing rural access to health care workers and technology.

“Creating jobs and economic opportunity in rural America is a priority for the Obama Administration, and the White House Rural Council has used an ‘all hands on deck’ approach to leverage resources across the federal government to achieve that goal,” said U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “By bringing new capital, job training, and additional investments to our rural communities, we are working to ensure the people who live in these towns have a better, brighter future.”

The Council’s recommendations, which leverage existing programs and funding, include committing $350 million in Small Business Administration funding to rural small businesses over the next 5 years, launching a series of conferences to connect private equity and venture capital investors with rural start ups, creating capital marketing teams to pitch federal funding opportunities to private investors interested in making rural investments, making job search information available at 2,800 local USDA offices nationwide, making HHS loans available to help more than 1,300 Critical Access Hospitals recruit additional staff, and helping rural hospitals purchase software and hardware to implement health information technology.

“SBA is pleased to announce that we will be doubling the capital going to rural businesses through the Small Business Investment Company program, with no cost to tax payers,” said Administrator Karen Mills. “Small businesses of all kinds are thriving in rural areas where they are creating jobs of the future and helping ensure the economic stability of the middle class. Half the people who work in America either own or work for a small business, and two out of three new private sector jobs are created by small businesses. The Obama Administration and SBA have been committed to supporting rural businesses, which drive economic growth across the country and will continue to do so through the programs announced today.”

Today’s forum is expected to bring together farmers, small business owners, private sector leaders, rural organizations and government officials to further discuss ideas to provide for rural economic growth.

The Rural Council was established by executive order on June 9, and released a report, Jobs and Economic Security for Rural America (PDF), on Aug. 12. Tuesday, President Barack Obama and members of the Council will host an economic forum at Northeast Iowa Community College, as part of an ongoing three-day bus tour by the White House.

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