DES MOINES, Iowa, Aug. 19, 2011
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced that USDA has signed an agreement with the Council on Foundations to provide new sources of capital, new job opportunities, workforce investment strategies, and identification of additional resources that can be used to spur economic growth in rural America. The signing of the Memorandum of Understanding builds on meetings the Secretary had last month during the Council on Foundations Rural Philanthropy Conference in Kansas City, Mo., where he called on representatives the philanthropic community to "Step up, take risks, and work creatively create jobs, improve the quality of life and make an impact on rural America." The Secretary made the announcement today while hosting a White House Rural Forum at the Iowa State Fair.
"This partnership sets a path to greater economic opportunities for rural communities by ensuring a better use of resources," Vilsack said. "Under the Obama Administration, USDA is partnering with philanthropic organizations to effectively leverage funds to improve the quality of life and create jobs in rural America. Working together, the government and its partners will boost the effectiveness of efforts to create economic opportunity in communities and regions of our Nation that need support."
The MOU provides for a survey of existing programs and investments that further economic opportunities; linking of resources that are complementary; and coordination on common agendas and projects. It is intended to:
- Foster greater economic opportunities and partner in creation of new sources of rural opportunities to improve the quality of life for rural Americans
- Identify resources that can be used to produce new economic opportunities
- Promote new partnerships in workforce investment strategies and
- Develop innovative, effective and sustainable methods of collaborating to benefit rural communities.
In his speech to philanthropists last month, Secretary Vilsack called on philanthropic organizations to work with USDA to forge new partnerships to remove barriers to rural investment. Today's announcement furthers that goal.
Vilsack noted that the Obama Administration is working to ensure that rural Americans have access to basic services and businesses have the tools they need to compete, expand and create jobs, and while the government can provide crucial assistance, more can be done if the government more effectively partners with the philanthropic community and the private sector.
In June, President Obama signed an Executive Order establishing the first White House Rural Council, chaired by Secretary Vilsack. The President hosted a Rural Economic Forum this week in Peosta, Iowa, and in conjunction with the White House Rural Economic Forum to further advance rural job creation, he announced that SBA and USDA will launch a series of Rural Private Equity and Venture Capital conferences nationwide to provide a platform for connecting private equity and venture capital investors with rural start-ups. Since his inauguration, President Obama's Administration has taken significant steps to improve the lives of rural Americans and has provided broad support for rural communities. The Obama Administration has set goals of modernizing infrastructure by providing broadband access to 10 million Americans, expanding educational opportunities for students in rural areas, providing affordable health care, promoting innovation and expanding the production of renewable energy. In the long term, these unparalleled rural investments will help ensure that America's rural communities are repopulating, self-sustaining, and thriving economically.
As chair of the Rural Council, Secretary Vilsack is working to coordinate USDA programs across the government and encourage public-private partnerships to improve economic conditions and create jobs in rural communities. The White House Rural Forums provide an opportunity for government leaders to hear directly from rural residents from around the country about their ideas on how to grow the economy. This exchange is also intended to educate participants about USDA programs and other the resources within the federal government. USDA, through its Rural Development mission area, administers and manages housing, business and community infrastructure and facility programs through a national network of state and local offices to improve the quality of life in rural America.