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Biden-Harris Administration Marks One-Year Anniversary of Rural Partners Network With Economic Development Projects in Mississippi

RD Press
Release Date

$17 Million in Public and Private Funding Will Help Expand Greenville Mid-Delta Airport Facility and Workforce Training Programs

GREENVILLE, Miss., April 14, 2023 – U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development Under Secretary Xochitl Torres Small today marked the one-year anniversary of the Rural Partners Network (RPN) by announcing new public-private partnerships and investments that will bring good-paying jobs and other economic opportunities to rural Mississippi communities.

“The Rural Partners Network has transformed the way we serve people in rural areas in Mississippi and throughout the country,” Torres Small said. “By partnering with communities to identify projects that will drive economic growth for generations to come, we create opportunities for everyone to build successful futures in the communities they love. And this is just the beginning. President Biden continues to fulfill his promise to invest in America by making an unprecedented amount of resources available through economic and infrastructure development programs, and this network will continue to ensure these investments end up where they are needed most.”

Torres Small joined Representative Bennie Thompson, Greenville Mayor Errick Simmons and USDA Rural Development Mississippi State Director Dr. Trina George at the Greenville Mid-Delta Airport to announce a new project facilitated by RPN that will breathe new life into the region’s aviation industry and bring more jobs to the area.

“This project represents a model example of why the Rural Partners Network was established,” said USDA Rural Development State Director Dr. Trina George. “By leveraging the resources of multiple federal partners, we hope to replicate the success of this exciting expansion of workforce development programs not only in Mississippi, but also nationally. When rural America thrives, all of America thrives.”

The project is the result of a public-private partnership among the City of Greenville, the Delta Regional Authority and Greenville Kearns Aerospace Maintenance. It will invest more than $15 million into the renovation of an empty hangar at the airport and bring it into compliance with Department of Defense codes. The project has the potential to create 200 jobs and is estimated largest catalyst for economic growth in the region in over 30 years. The new jobs would pay an average salary of $49,500, well above the median salary for Washington County, where the airport is located.

Torres Small and Representative Thompson also visited Coahoma Community College in Clarksdale, a historically Black community college that is receiving $2 million from the Delta Regional Authority to expand its workforce development center to meet the training needs for its five-county district.

First-Year Successes

Agriculture Secretary Vilsack launched the Rural Partners Network one year ago during a visit to Clarksdale, Miss. The projects announced in Mississippi today are just two of many that RPN has helped put into action over the past year. Since its inception, RPN has organized about 200 meetings with rural communities across the country, expanding its network to more than 800 partners in 10 states and Puerto Rico.

In February, USDA announced it provided $262 million to help fund projects that will improve access to jobs, health care, housing and infrastructure for several of the communities participating in RPN. The investments illustrate the kind of technical assistance and coordination RPN provided in its first year.

For example:

  • In Kentucky, local RPN staff mobilized last summer to coordinate with FEMA, local governments and nonprofits to help families in need after floods devastated the southeastern part of the state. RPN staff helped USDA use disaster-related authorities to more than triple the maximum grant amount available through its home repair program to help families repair extensive damage to their homes. This increase is already helping people affected by floods and wildfires in New Mexico and hurricanes in Puerto Rico.
  • In Georgia, RPN brought together funding organizations and more than 50 local, state and federal leaders in September 2022 to discuss priorities and specific projects that could benefit rural communities in the state.
  • In Arizona, RPN helped the two participating Tribal Nations with needs related to the beautification and disposal of solid waste on their lands. Through RPN, the Tribal communities were able to connect with the Inter-Tribal Council of Arizona, which applied for and received USDA funding to provide training on how best to manage and mitigate solid waste.

In addition to addressing immediate needs, RPN is helping each participating community to identify signature projects like the one at the Greenville Mid-Delta Airport. These key projects are intended to build on unique local assets to create lasting economic growth. More information on signature projects and other accomplishments is available in RPN’s first annual report.

Background: Rural Partners Network

Led by USDA with support from more than 20 federal agencies and commissions, RPN is central to President Biden’s commitment to ensure all rural communities can benefit from federal resources. This includes historic funding from the American Rescue Plan Act, the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and the Inflation Reduction Act.

Launched in April 2022 and expanded in November 2022, the Rural Partners Network is now active in 36 community networks in 10 states and Puerto Rico.

Community networks receive on-the-ground support from full-time federal staff who live and work locally. These staff members provide technical assistance based on each community’s needs, helping them navigate federal programs, build relationships and prepare successful applications for funding.

RPN communities also benefit from coordination through other federal efforts such as the Interagency Working Group on Coal and Power Plant Communities and Economic Revitalization and President Biden’s Justice40 Initiative. The Rural Prosperity Interagency Policy Council, co-led by the White House Domestic Policy Council and USDA, advises the RPN program and shares lessons learned through RPN for policy consideration. A team of Rural Desk Officers representing each participating federal agency or regional commission supports the RPN program and community networks.

For more information on RPN, visit Rural.gov.

USDA touches the lives of all Americans each day in so many positive ways. In the Biden-Harris Administration, USDA is transforming America’s food system with a greater focus on more resilient local and regional food production, fairer markets for all producers, ensuring access to safe, healthy and nutritious food in all communities, building new markets and streams of income for farmers and producers using climate-smart food and forestry practices, making historic investments in infrastructure and clean-energy capabilities in rural America, and committing to equity across the Department by removing systemic barriers and building a workforce more representative of America. To learn more, visit www.usda.gov.

Under the Biden-Harris Administration, Rural Development provides loans and grants to help expand economic opportunities, create jobs and improve the quality of life for millions of Americans in rural areas. This assistance supports infrastructure improvements; business development; housing; community facilities such as schools, public safety and health care; and high-speed internet access in rural, tribal and high-poverty areas. For more information, visit www.rd.usda.gov.

To subscribe to USDA Rural Development updates, visit GovDelivery subscriber page.


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