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$248K Awarded to University of Nebraska as USDA RD Expands Partnerships to Create Thriving, Livable Communities to Attract People and Jobs to Rural Areas and Tribal Nations

Meredith Mingledorff
Release Date

U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development Under Secretary Xochitl Torres Small announced this week that USDA is awarding $4 million in cooperative agreements to 17 organizations under the Rural Placemaking Innovation Challenge. Placemaking is a collaborative planning and technical assistance process that helps leaders from rural communities create quality places where people will want to live, work, visit, and learn.

The assistance will help the organizations support people who have been unserved or live in socially vulnerable communities, tribal communities, and rural areas.

The agreements announced today also will support people living in five communities participating in the Biden-Harris Administration’s Rural Partners Network. The network is a whole-of-government effort led by USDA to transform the way federal agencies partner with rural places to create economic opportunity in rural America.

The organizations will provide technical assistance to help people apply for and get access to government resources for projects to spur economic growth and attract jobs.

The organizations will work directly with people in rural communities to develop plans that will ensure people have access to high-speed internet in their homes, are able to live in affordable housing, have access to safe and reliable transportation to go to school and work, and more. This assistance will support the communities for up to two years. 

For example in Nebraska, the Board of Regents of the University of Nebraska was awarded $247,938 to create an actionable placemaking plan for the Knox County, Nebraska area. The proposed project will create an actionable placemaking plan through asset and infrastructure mapping, strategic planning, and capacity building. This community and economic development effort will focus on tourism, recreation, and planning technical assistance for the Knox County area communities, assisting in COVID-19 economic recovery, and capitalizing upon recent regional investments in recreation and broadband infrastructure. The population will be served by this project through the development of a place-based plan that will define the tourism strategy for the region and county, analyze tourism assets, and supporting infrastructure, and create a detailed narrative about opportunities in the region. Communities will be trained for placemaking implementation, and communities will have identified USDA grants to target identified projects. Matching funds are being provided by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in the amount of $42,191 and Knox County Economic Development will provide $5,000 for seed grant support.

The investments will help people in rural and tribal communities in Alabama, Arkansas, California, Georgia, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Mississippi, Nebraska, New Mexico, New York, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Washington, and Wisconsin. For more information about the program, visit https://www.rd.usda.gov/about-rd/initiatives/rural-placemaking-innovation-challenge to access a placemaking toolkit and additional resources, visit: Rural Placemaking | Rural Development (usda.gov). To subscribe to USDA Rural Development updates, visit GovDelivery subscriber page.

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