The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Virginia Rural Development office today announced the names of rural Virginia communities and regions that will receive technical assistance to help create and implement long-term economic development plans.
“Many rural communities need support to build their capacity to create and implement economic development plans,” said Beth Green, USDA Rural Development Virginia State Director. “USDA is partnering to bring local leaders and economic development experts together to improve the quality of life and grow economies in rural areas of the Commonwealth.”
USDA is providing the assistance through an initiative called Rural Economic Development Innovation (REDI). USDA’s Innovation Center created REDI to support recommendations identified in the Report to the President from the Interagency Task Force on Agriculture and Rural Prosperity.
This announcement comes as a part of Acting Assistant to the Secretary for Rural Development Joel Baxley’s national announcement that 47 rural communities and regions will receive technical assistance to help create and implement long-term economic development plans.
Each of the 47 communities and regions will be paired with one of four partner organizations that will provide free technical assistance for up to two years to help rural towns and regions create and implement economic development plans. USDA awarded $1.2 million in cooperative agreements to these partners in September 2018. The agreements will help the partners finance the free technical assistance.
The partners are the National Association of Counties Research Foundation, the Rural Community Assistance Partnership (RCAP), McClure Engineering Company, and Purdue University Extension/Community & Economic Development Initiative of Kentucky.
In Virginia, the following regions have been selected to receive free technical assistance:
The County of Rockbridge will use planning assistance from RCAP to expand water, waste, electric and housing infrastructure. Assistance will help support the rural workforce through apprenticeship programs, small business succession planning small business assistance entrepreneurship support and telework strategies.
Page County Economic Development and Tourism will use planning assistance from RCAP to support regional tourism and encourage entrepreneurship. Planning assistance will help identify ways to increase consumer spending and create jobs in outdoor recreation to help diversify the economy, improve quality of life, and strengthen community wellbeing. Technical assistance will benefit residents of Page County, Town of Elkton, and Town of Front Royal located in Northern and Central Shenandoah Va.
Economic Development Greater East in West Virginia will use planning assistance from RCAP to improve quality of life, combat opioid misuse, and identify solutions to solve the community's food desert. This assistance will benefit residents in McDowell County and Mercer County in West Virginia. Assistance will also benefit Tazewell County, Va.
The following is a brief overview of the type of assistance each partner will provide:
The National Association of Counties Research Foundation is partnering with the National Association of Regional Councils to develop a peer-learning program. Local and regional leaders in six rural communities and regions will be trained to implement multi-jurisdictional economic development plans and projects. The program will include workshops, team mentoring, educational webinars, community case studies and interactive learning.
McClure Engineering Company is partnering with CO.STARTERS, a Tennessee-based consulting firm, to help four rural communities and regions build plans to spur economic and community development, strengthen workforce readiness programs, and support entrepreneurship.
Purdue University Extension and Community & Economic Development Initiative of Kentucky will support eight communities and regions to build long-term economic development plans by leveraging public and private funding sources.
The Rural Community Assistance Partnership will provide technical assistance to 29 rural communities and regions through the organization’s WealthWorks model. This model will help rural regions and communities identify and market local assets.
In April 2017, President Donald J. Trump established the Interagency Task Force on Agriculture and Rural Prosperity to identify legislative, regulatory and policy changes that could promote agriculture and prosperity in rural communities. In January 2018, Secretary Perdue presented the Task Force’s findings to President Trump. These findings included 31 recommendations to align the federal government with state, local and tribal governments to take advantage of opportunities that exist in rural America.
The REDI initiative was developed by the USDA Rural Development Innovation Center to support recommendations identified in the Report to the President of the United States from the Task Force on Agriculture and Rural Prosperity (PDF, 5.4 MB). To view the categories of the recommendations, please view the Rural Prosperity infographic (PDF, 190 KB).
USDA Rural Development provides loans and grants to help expand economic opportunities and create jobs 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 areas. For more information, visit www.rd.usda.gov.