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USDA and University of Kentucky Unveil Digital Placemaking Toolkit for Communities Across Rural America

USDA Press
Release Date

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development Under Secretary Xochitl Torres Small today announced that USDA and the University of Kentucky’s Community and Economic Development Initiative of Kentucky unveiled a free digital toolkit to help rural leaders build placemaking plans in small towns and communities across America. 

“When rural people thrive, all America thrives. The Biden-Harris Administration is committed to ensuring rural Americans can build a good life and succeed in the communities they love,” Torres Small said. “That takes investment in the physical, digital, and social infrastructure that builds and strengthens successful communities. Physical infrastructure like roads, bridges, dams, and waterways, provides a foundation for safety and opportunity. High-speed internet and other digital infrastructure, rural people can connect to learning, job opportunities and markets around the world. When combined with social infrastructure, like good schools, health clinics, public parks, community organizations, and cultural venues, rural places can thrive. USDA is a proud partner to rural communities investing in their futures.”

Through this interactive toolkit, rural leaders can conduct assessments to determine their community’s readiness for placemaking activities. The toolkit includes examples of placemaking projects based on a community’s readiness that rural leaders can replicate in their communities.

The toolkit also will help rural leaders identify national and regional technical assistance providers, funders and resource guides to implement rural placemaking activities in their communities. Regional and national technical assistance providers and funding organizations may request to be added to the toolkit’s directory.
For more information, visit: Rural America Placemaking Toolkit (ruralplacemaking.com).

In March 2022, USDA announced a $260,000 cooperative agreement with the University of Kentucky’s Community and Economic Development Initiative of Kentucky to expand access to placemaking resources that will create more livable and vibrant communities for people in rural America. The funds were used to launch a digital placemaking toolkit and co-host with USDA a national virtual placemaking workshop.

Placemaking is a collaborative planning and technical assistance process. It helps rural community leaders develop plans to create quality places where people will want to live, work, visit, learn and explore. 

The plans can enhance a rural community’s capacity to provide people access to economic development opportunities as well as community infrastructure such as affordable housing, safe and reliable transportation, high-speed internet and more. 

USDA also offers cooperative agreements under the Rural Placemaking Innovation Challenge (RPIC). Eligible entities may use the funds to help rural communities create plans to enhance capacity for high-speed internet access; preserve cultural and historic structures; and support development in transportation, housing, and recreational spaces. The Department expects to open the next application window in the coming weeks.

For more information about rural placemaking, visit Rural Placemaking | Rural Development (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. If you’d like to subscribe to USDA Rural Development updates, visit our GovDelivery subscriber page.

USDA touches the lives of all Americans each day in so many positive ways. Under 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


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