Five members of the Fresno-based White House Smart Cities, Smart Communities (SC2) Initiative received a 2013 U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary's Honor Award for their outstanding collaborative efforts involving a regional economic strategy in Fresno. The award was presented to USDA Rural Development employees Robert Tse, Richard Brassfield and Sally Tripp along with team members Carolyn Hogg from the City of Fresno and Teressa Wykpisz-Lee from the U.S. Department of Energy.
The team's regional economic strategy focused on a rural-urban broadband policy that also integrated agriculture technology as a means for reviving the Fresno economy. The team helped bring together partners from across federal agencies as well as local entities including the City of Fresno, Central Valley Business Incubator, Fresno State University and the Partnership for the San Joaquin Valley. Collaborations resulted in Fresno's inaugural Agriculture Technology Showcase featuring newly developed technologies and their commercial applications in agriculture.
Awards were presented by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack during the 65th annual ceremony on December 11 in Washington, D.C. The Secretary's Honor Awards are the most prestigious awards given by USDA, and recognizes outstanding contributions to support USDA's mission and goals.
"It is a great testament to the hard work and creative efforts of USDA Rural Development's employees and partners working on the SC2 initiative to be honored by Secretary Vilsack and the Agriculture Department in such a notable way," said USDA Rural Development State Director Glenda Humiston.
USDA, through its Rural Development mission area, has an active portfolio of nearly $189 billion in loans and loan guarantees. These programs are designed to improve the economic stability of rural communities, businesses, residents, farmers and ranchers and improve the quality of life in rural America.