05 November 2022, Washington: U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack and Ambassador Susan Rice, White House Domestic Policy Advisor, today announced the expansion of the Rural Partners Network (RPN) to 17 communities in four more states and Puerto Rico. RPN is an all-of-government program that partners with rural people to access resources and funding to create local jobs, build infrastructure, and support long-term economic stability on their own terms.
Today’s announcement is part of President Biden’s commitment to ensure all rural communities can benefit from federal resources, including historic funding provided by the American Rescue Plan, Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and Inflation Reduction Act.
Vilsack and Ambassador Rice are in Wisconsin to meet with people, businesses and organizations who will benefit from RPN’s expansion. RPN is also launching in communities in Alaska, Nevada, West Virginia and Puerto Rico. Vilsack joined White House Coordinator Mitch Landrieu last week in North Carolina to announce the RPN communities there.
“The Biden-Harris Administration is committed to ensuring that people in rural communities have every opportunity to succeed – and that they can find those opportunities right at home in rural America,” Vilsack said. “Rural people make up America’s spirit and character and provide the everyday essentials our country depends on. We know that when rural people thrive, America thrives. By expanding the Rural Partners Network, we can help these important but often overlooked communities receive their fair share of government resources to keep rural people and economies prepared for the future.”
“Rural America is full of opportunities but these vital communities don’t always have a way to navigate federal agencies or access the resources of the government,” said Domestic Policy Advisor Susan Rice. “The Rural Partners Network is bringing federal staff directly to rural communities to ensure local leaders have access to federal resources as they build strong and vibrant economies.”
RPN helps establish community networks in rural areas where local leaders and residents collaborate with civic and business organizations, nonprofits, service providers, development agencies and others to create new opportunities and build on the diversity of a region’s population and perspectives.
RPN is expanding to the following community networks:
- In Alaska: Southeast Alaska; and Western Alaska Native Communities including areas of Bering Strait, Kashunamiut, Lower Kuskokwim and Lower Yukon.
- In Nevada: Southern Nevada Community Network including Nye and Esmeralda counties; Sierra Region Community Network including Lyon and Mineral counties; Moapa Valley Community Network including Clark County and cities of Moapa, Moapa Valley, Overton, Logandale, and Bunkerville; Nevada 95-80 Regional Development Community Network including Humboldt and Pershing counties; and Southern Clark County Community Network including Clark County and cities of Laughlin, Searchlight, Cal-Nev-Ari.
- In North Carolina: Robeson, Bladen, Columbus County Community Network; Glow House Foundation Community Network including Randolph County; Wilson, Edgecombe, Nash, and Johnston Community Network; Halifax-Northampton Community Network; and Albemarle-Roanoke Community Network including Bertie, Martin, Tyrrell, and Washington counties.
- In Puerto Rico: Southwest Puerto Rico including the municipalities of Mayaguez, Maricao and Guanica; Central Puerto Rico-Mountainous Region including the municipalities of Utuado, Jayuya, Ciales, Orcovis, Villalba, Ponce, Adjuntas, Barranquitas and Coamo; and Roosevelt Roads Community Network including Fajardo, Cieba, and Naguabo and to include El Yunque National Forest.
- In West Virginia: Southern West Virginia Community Network including Mingo, Wayne, Lincoln, Boone, Logan, Wyoming, McDowell, Mercer, Monroe, Raleigh, Summers, Fayette counties; and West Virginia Pioneer Community Network including Braxton, Calhoun, Clay, Gilmer, Nicholas, Roane, Webster, and Wirt counties.
- In Wisconsin: Northern Wisconsin Community Network including Ashland, Iron and Price counties; Greater Menominee Community Network including Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin and Menominee County; Forest County Community Network; Northwestern Wisconsin Community Network including Eau Claire, Dunn, Clark, Buffalo, Pepin, and Chippewa counties; and Adams County Visionary Community Network.
Background: Rural Partners Network
The Rural Partners Network launched in April 2022 in 14 communities in Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, New Mexico and Native American communities in Arizona.
Community networks within these states and those announced today will receive on-the-ground support from full-time federal staff members assigned to provide technical assistance tailored to the community’s unique needs and objectives. These community liaisons live and work in the rural communities they serve, allowing them to develop partnerships with local leaders to promote growth and prosperity for rural families and local communities.
These federal staff members will help rural communities navigate federal programs, build relationships and identify community-driven solutions, and develop successful applications for funding.
Additionally, RPN includes an-all -of government strategy supported by more than 20 federal agencies and commissions, working closely together with each other, rural communities, and existing programs and policies. Communities also benefit from coordination through other federal efforts such as the Interagency Working Group on Coal and Power Plant Communities and Economic Revitalization and President Biden’s Justice40 Initiative. The Rural Prosperity Interagency Policy Council, co-led by the White House Domestic Policy Council and USDA, advises the RPN program and escalates lessons learned through RPN for policy consideration. A team of Rural Desk Officers representing each participating federal agency or regional commission supports the RPN program and the selected community networks.
To deliver on the promise to make federal resources more readily available to underserved communities across rural America, the Biden-Harris Administration is seeking additional federal funding in order to expand the Rural Partners Network to additional places in fiscal year 2023.
Information about the Rural Partners Network is available online at Rural.gov.
USDA touches the lives of all Americans each day in so many positive ways. In 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.
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.
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