Related Rural Blog Posts

  • 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

  • Weekly Wrap Up: On the Road

    Watch West Wing Week here.

    This week most of the action took place far away from the West Wing, as the President and many of his senior advisors hit the road to talk with Americans in rural towns and communities in Minnesota, Iowa and Illinois.

    Rural Road Trip: From August 15-18, President Obama traveled through the Midwest, meeting with Americans in rural towns and communities in Minnesota, Iowa and Illinois. The purpose of his trip, dubbed the Economic Rural Tour 2011, was to have conversations with people from different walks of life about what is happening in our country right now. The President was there to talk, but also to listen. His message at the end of his trip? There’s nothing wrong with our country that can’t be fixed.

    Summer Tour: The President was not the only member of the Administration on the road this week. In fact, this summer there are more than 100 events being held across the country in support of the White House’s Rural Economic Council, which this week released a Jobs and Economic Security report. The Council held a Rural Economic Forum in Iowa, where the President announced several new initiatives to help create jobs and grow the economy in rural communities.

    VP in Asia: Vice President Joe Biden logged even more miles than the President this week, as he headed to China for the first stop on his three country trip through Asia. In addition to meeting with Chinese leaders in Beijing, the VP also attended a U.S.-China business roundtable and chatted with locals at a snack shop in the city. You can follow his travels live on Twitter – #VPin Asia.

    Historic Appointments, Historic Delays: The President’s nominations for federal judges embody an unprecedented commitment to expanding the racial, gender and experiential diversity of the men and women who enforce our laws and deliver justice. Unfortunately, the delays these nominees are encountering on Capitol Hill are equally unprecedented. Check out this infographic to understand what this means for Americans seeking justice.

    Immigration Update: The Department of Homeland Security announced a new strategy that focuses immigration resources in a way that puts public safety and national security first. Cecilia Muñoz, Deputy Assistant to the President and Director of Intergovernmental Affairs, held Office Hours via Twitter to explain the change and what it means.  

    Super Bowl Champs in the House: On August 12, the Green Bay Packers paid a visit to the President, where he congratulated the team on their championship season. Team members took a tour of the White House and gave a shout out to the First Lady, whose work with Let’s Move inspires their own Fit Kids program, which helps educate Wisconsin children about good health and smart eating habits.

  • Spotlight on Rural America

    Today, I am hosting a forum focused on the rural economy at the Iowa State Fair.  But, Rural America has been in the spotlight all this week as I joined President Obama to travel across parts of Minnesota, Iowa and Illinois, visiting rural communities to discuss his Administration’s efforts to create jobs and drive economic growth.  From investments in rural broadband to efforts to support small-business innovation, the President talked about his commitment to rural America – and he listened to what local residents had to say. 

    The centerpiece of his trip was the Rural Economic Forum, held Tuesday at Northeast Iowa Community College in Peosta.  There, 200 small business owners, farmers, retirees, elected officials and others came together to discuss their ideas for a revitalized rural economy.  I was pleased to participate in that forum, along with my Cabinet colleagues Housing and Urban Development Secretary Donovan, Transportation Secretary LaHood, and Administrator Mills of the Small Business Administration.

    President Obama and Agriculture Secretary Vilsack

    President Barack Obama, accompanied by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, holds a breakout session at the White House Rural Economic Forum at Northeast Iowa Community College in Peosta, Iowa, Aug. 16, 2011, as part of his three-day economic bus tour of the Midwest. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

    After opening remarks by the President, the participants broke into a series of small discussion groups – with topics ranging from agricultural innovation and energy opportunities to small business to infrastructure.  Each group developed a series of ideas and recommendations, which will become part of a larger report to the White House Rural Council that I chair.

    I had the opportunity to facilitate the Ag Innovation and Energy break-out session, with about 20 farmers, ranchers, and other officials.  Our discussion – which the President joined for a few minutes – touched on the importance of the renewable energy sector and new markets, as well as particular barriers to growing the rural economy through agricultural innovation.

  • West Wing Week 8/19/11 or "Get On the Bus"

    Welcome to the West Wing Week, your guide to everything that's happening at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. This week, the President welcomed the Super Bowl Champion Green Bay Packers to the White House before heading out on a three day bus tour across the midwestern states of Minnesota, Iowa, and Illinois.  During his tour through the heartland, the President heard directly from Americans including small business owners, local families and private sector leaders who talked about the need for faster economic growth, strengthening the middle class and accelerating hiring in communities and towns across the nation. That's August 12th to August 18th or "Get on the Bus."

    Watch West Wing Week here.

  • Local Leaders Discuss the President’s Rural Tour

    This week President Obama traveled through Minnesota, Iowa and Illinois holding town hall meetings with residents in rural communities.  We heard from several state and local officials who attended the events on the impact of the President’s Rural Tour and what it meant to their communities:

    Linn County Supervisor Lu Barron attended the Rural Economic Forum with the President in Peosta, Iowa:

    [The] forum was a true cross-section of rural America, including farmers, small business owners and local governments and it provided us the opportunity to discuss critical issues facing rural communities and bring them to the attention of the President and key administration officials. It’s important for all of us to work with the Administration to strengthen our rural communities so they can thrive.