Related Rural Blog Posts

  • A Step Toward better Housing and Economic Development in Indian Country

    Ed. Note: Cross-posted from The HUDdle.

    I was in Albuquerque yesterday to announce $28 million in HUD funding to help rural communities across the country tackle their toughest housing and poverty challenges. I was joined by tribal leaders in New Mexico as I shared that more than half of the funds, $15.6 million, went to 27 Native American tribes or communities across the nation.

    I’m not surprised there was a strong showing of communities in Indian Country finding innovative solutions to address some of our most difficult challenges. Economic development is particularly crucial in Native American communities.

    The Rural Innovation Fund Grants promote an entrepreneurial approach to addressing affordable housing and economic development in rural areas – and at the heart of this movement are Native American tribes and leaders. The grants will lead to nearly 800 new homes and more than 650 jobs nationwide, and leverage an extra $18 million in investments. We know each tribe and American Indian community is different, facing different challenges and opportunities. That is why the new Rural Innovation Fund offers flexible resources that allow communities to address either housing or economic development needs, or both.

  • The American Family of Governments, Working Together to Strengthen America’s Economy

    From Jefferson Keel, the current President of the National Congress of American Indians and the Lt. Governor of the Chickasaw Nation, on his experience participating in the White House Rural Economic Forum in Iowa:

    Like so many of our rural neighbors, American Indian and Alaska Native communities have felt the burden of our nation’s economic challenges. In fact tribal nations have known hardship like this for too long.  That is why the efforts of the White House to find economic development solutions for Indian Countryhave been so important to tribal leaders and entrepreneurs.  It’s also the reason I accepted the invitation to join other rural leaders in Iowa to have an important conversation with President Obama and Secretaries Vilsack, Salazar, Donovan, and LaHood about the economic viability of our country, including our tribal nations.  The discussions with the President and Secretaries were constructive and encouraging.

    The White House Rural Council, established this past June, is a flagship effort that shows President Obama is serious about building a strong economic future for all Americans. The fact that tribes have a seat at the table as rural policy is considered is a reflection of a commitment to the nation-to-nation relationship that began even before the President took office. It is a commitment that acknowledges the need to address the challenges tribes face and sees the innovation tribal nations offer to build a stronger America.

    Native people are America’s most rural population and tribal lands consist of over five percent of the nation’s land base (an area that would make Indian Country the nation’s fourth largest state). While many of our communities are among the poorest in the country and unemployment rates in Indian Country often stand above 50 percent, tribes are leading the way in developing and implementing innovative policy.

  • The Economic Power of Outdoor Recreation

    Ed. note: This article has been cross-posted from the Department of the Interior's web site

    President Obama has made it clear that job creation is, and must remain, front and center for his Administration day in and day out.

    With that in mind, I traveled to New England this week to highlight the economic power of outdoor recreation and tourism to create jobs. Hunting, fishing, and outdoor recreation contribute an estimated $730 billion to the U.S. economy each year. And one in twenty U.S. jobs are in the recreation economy – more than there are doctors, lawyers or teachers.

    More than 12 million Americans hunt; more than 30 million Americans fish; and three out of four Americans engage in some kind of healthy outdoor activity.

    A letter I recently received from a Canadian family shows just how big an impact tourism and recreation can have. The family spent 42 days on the road, exploring national parks across the U.S. Over the course of their travels, they stayed in motels and hotels, ate in restaurants and spent money in local businesses from coast to coast:

    “Our family spent almost $20,000 on our trip,” the letter reads, “almost all of it at local stores and services as we traveled. Without the National Park Service, our destination would have probably been somewhere in Europe.”

    Many small and large businesses in New England are also key drivers of the outdoor economy. A store like LL Bean is a shining example of how a home-grown business can fulfill the American dream. What started almost 100 years ago as one man’s idea to sell a waterproof boot to hunters has grown into a company that today employs 5,000 people and generates 1.4 billion in revenue.

    The businesses I visited this week -- including L.L. Bean’s headquarters in Freeport, Maine, Bibens Ace Hardware in Colchester, Vermont, and Eastern Mountain Sports near Portsmouth, New Hampshire -- demonstrate the power of outdoor recreation to create jobs and spur economic growth in communities both in New England and across our country. When we invest in conservation and encourage people to reconnect with nature, we aren’t just investing in the land, water, and wildlife we love, but also in our economic future.

     

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  • Stories from the Rural Economic Forum

    Last week, one of President Obama's stops during his economic bus tour was a Rural Economic Forum in Peosta, Iowa, held in conjunction with the White House Rural Council.  Along with members of his Cabinet, the President met with a diverse group of local business leaders, farmers, private sector leaders and rural organizations. During the forum, the President walked through his new jobs initiative for rural America, which includes committing up to $350 million in SBA growth capital to investors in rural small businesses over the next 5 years, launching a series of events to connect private equity and venture capital investors with rural start ups and creating teams to link federal funding opportunities with private investors interested in making rural investments. 

    As the President said in his closing remarks, our job “has to be to get behind what you’re doing; our task has to be making sure that nothing stands in your way, that we remove any obstacles to your success.”  Listening to those remarks were a few area business leaders who are succeeding in their communities, creating jobs and growing their companies.

  • State Fair Roundtable an Opportunity to Hear from Rural Leaders Across Illinois

    Ed note: this article was cross-posted from the Department of Transportation's blog

    Visiting the Illinois State Fair is one of my favorite summertime traditions. From livestock competitions to concerts to a giant butter cow, the Fair is great opportunity to spend time with my grandkids and see everything that Illinois has to offer.

    But my visit to the Fair on Friday wasn’t only about fun and games. As part of the President's efforts to reach out to people in America's heartland, I was pleased to lead a roundtable with members of the Illinois Chamber of Commerce, small business owners, farmers, rural organizations, and government officials to hear their ideas about what DOT can do to continue expanding opportunities for them.

    DOT State Fair Tractor

    Illinois State Fair 2011 parade, photo courtesy IIS Photos - Illinois State Fair photos

    Look, every day, President Obama, Vice President Biden, and all of us in this Administration are working hard to put Americans back on the jobsite. We know that continued federal investments in rural communities will create construction jobs and ensure that farmers and ranchers have the roads, rail lines, and ports they need to move their products to market.

    We have worked hard to create opportunities across all regions of the U.S., and during our first two years in office, we put Americans to work on more than 7,000 individual transportation projects in rural areas.

    When the rural economy in America is growing and prospering, the overall economy benefits. President Obama and this Administration won't be satisfied until every American who wants work can find a job, and we're working tirelessly to accelerate our economy recovery.

    DOT is doing our part to help rural communities thrive.  Earlier this month, we released guidance for states to make sure they clearly understand the very common-sense exceptions to regulations governing the transport of agricultural products, which allow farmers, their employees, and their family members to accomplish their day-to-day work and get their products to market.

    DOT State Fair Roundtable

    Listening at the rural roundtable, though the table itself was square, photo courtesy Caitlin Harvey, DOT

    DOT is now in the third round of funding for the Transportation Investments Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) program, a competitive grants program that has helped a number of rural cities and towns build innovative projects and lay the foundation for future economic growth. Through this program we have also invested in safety--we have already funded 24 major rural projects to replace unsafe bridges, and make roads safer.

    Friday's roundtable was a great opportunity to speak to Americans who live in rural areas and work every day to keep our heartland's economy thriving. I hope to keep the dialogue open and look forward to continuing DOT's work expanding opportunities and supporting economic growth in rural communities across America.

  • Weekly Address: Putting Country Ahead of Party

     From a farm in the Midwest, President Obama talks about the determination and integrity of the American people and calls on Congress to put aside their differences to grow the economy.

    Transcript | Download mp4 | Download mp3