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USDA’s Rural Partners Network Adds Staff to Help Rural North Carolinians Access Resources and Create Thriving Local Economies

Robert Kerns
Release Date

RALEIGH, N.C.-APRIL 4, 2023 – U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development State Director Reginald Speight today announced the addition of Rural Partners Network (RPN) staff who will help rural North Carolinians access funding and resources to create new and lasting economic opportunities in their communities.

These new Community Liaisons will collaborate with people and organizations across 14 counties participating in RPN. Led by USDA, RPN combines federal, state and local resources to create jobs, build infrastructure, and support long-term economic stability in rural communities.

“This is an exciting opportunity to engage in deep partnerships to help rural North Carolinians get their fair share of federal funding,” Speight said. “Our Community Liaisons not only will help us address unique local needs, but they will ensure the voices of rural North Carolinians are reflected in policy decisions in Washington that ultimately will benefit all rural communities across the nation.”

In North Carolina, two Community Liaisons and a Statewide Community Liaison will help advance local priorities and projects in assigned Community Networks. They will be supported by national RPN staff, and Rural Desk Officers who help manage programs at 20 departments across the federal government.

The new North Carolina Community Liaisons and their assigned networks are:

  • George Vital, Statewide Community Liaison
  • Angela Washington, serving Albemarle-Roanoke Community Network
  • Floria Oates-Williams, serving Robeson, Bladen-Columbus Community Network

RPN invites self-identified Community Networks in selected areas to opt into the program. Each Community Network receives dedicated community development support to help them navigate federal and other programs, build relationships, and identify community-driven solutions. RPN Community Liaisons also help reduce barriers to participation in federal programs, prepare successful funding applications, and work to increase investments in underserved rural and Tribal areas.

The Rural Partners Network is a first-of-its-kind collaboration between federal agencies and local leaders and residents established by the Biden-Harris Administration to transform the way federal agencies partner with and serve rural people and places. The program is focused on improving social and economic well-being by making the most of new and existing local partnerships and assets and connecting rural opportunity with federal resources. It launched in April 2022 in 14 communities in Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, and New Mexico, as well as with three Tribes in Arizona. In November 2022, 22 communities in Alaska, Puerto Rico, Nevada, North Carolina, West Virginia, and Wisconsin were added to the program. USDA Rural Development is leading the Rural Partners Network, which is central to President Biden’s commitment to ensuring that rural Americans have the opportunity to succeed – and that they can find that opportunity close to home. Learn more at RURAL.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.

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, promoting competition and 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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