The Rural Partners Network announces nominations for rural innovators

The Rural Partners Network, an all-of-government program that helps rural communities find resources and funding to create jobs, build infrastructure, and support long-term economic stability, is asking the public to nominate rural innovators who are positively impacting their rural communities. Individuals of all ages, including youth, are eligible. According to an announcement on their website, nominated individuals could be engaged in either the public or private sectors, including local, state, Tribal, and territory governments; nonprofits; businesses; philanthropy; or academia.

Recent Research: Rural regions may not be so far behind in innovation capacity

Differences in per capita innovation capacity between urban and rural regions are not as large as previously believed according to a recent working paper from the National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics (NCSES). The study’s conclusions reduce the difference by a factor of three.

USDA invests $981M to build rural economy

In an effort to help rural citizens retain their resources and wealth, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack announced the investment of $981 million to help create new and better market opportunities  expanding essential services for rural people, businesses and entrepreneurs in 47 states, Guam and the Virgin Islands.  USDA is making 242 awards through eight programs specifically designed to create economic opportunity; the Biofuel Producer Relief Payments Program , Business and Industry (B&I) Loan GuaranteesCommunity Facilities Guaranteed Loan ProgramRural Cooperative Development Grant Program, the Rural Economic Development Loan and Grant ProgramRural Innovation Stronger Economy Grants program, the Rural Microentrepreneur Assistance Program and the Water and Waste Disposal Loan Guarantees.

New report highlights federal bioeconomy policy considerations in R&D, regional promotion, and workforce development

On the heels of President Biden’s recent announcement of a Biotechnology and Biomanufacturing Initiative to boost the United States bioeconomy, the Congressional Research Service (CRS) has released The Bioeconomy: A Primer, which examines the future of the bioeconomy, explores the United States’ competitiveness in global bioeconomy efforts, and notes the current lack of federal coordination on building the bioeconomy. To address this lack of coordination, the report urges Congress to develop a more comprehensive national strategy for establishing the bioeconomy.   

USDA announces $1.4 billion in awards for rural development

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) recently announced a $1.4 billion investment into rural areas of the U.S. for job training, business development, and technical assistance. These investments are granted through eight different programs to 751 awardees across 49 states, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico. USDA estimates that the grants and loans provided by these awards will create or save at least 50,000 jobs in the rural United States.

Proposed changes to MSA standards creating concern

In January, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) posted a request for public comment on the recommendations it has received from the Metropolitan and Micropolitan Statistical Area Standards Review Committee for changes to metropolitan and micropolitan statistical area standards. The 123 comments that have been recorded to date reflect a level of concern regarding changing the population threshold for urban areas and the impact on future funding that would have for these areas.

APLU launches rural workforce initiative

The Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) is building a program to create new career pathways for low-income rural students. Through a partnership with the North Central Regional Center for Rural Development at Purdue University, the program will address the needs of rural employers by creating a model to identify rural workforce needs, developing stakeholder partnerships, mapping workforce pathways, recruiting and supporting low-income rural learners, and building entrepreneurship and leadership skills. In a press release, APLU noted that the program will work to help low-income rural students looking for their first career options while helping non-traditional working-learners, such as displaced workers.

Higher ed playing outsize role in rural economies

The importance of higher education institutions in helping rural communities build innovation-based ecosystems has been detailed in a report released by the Center on Rural Innovation. Higher Ed’s Key Role In Rural Innovation Ecosystems profiles 10 colleges and universities that have been engaged in their area’s innovation environment and explores what techniques each institution has found most useful in building that ecosystem.

USDA unveils tool for rural communities fighting COVID-19

The U.S. Department of Agriculture unveiled a one-stop-shop of federal programs that can be used by rural communities impacted by COVID-19. The resource guide lists programs that can be used to provide immediate and long-term assistance in support of recovery efforts for rural residents, businesses and communities through:

New reports bolster broadband data, provide tactics for successful state broadband expansion

Two new reports, one from the National Association of Counties (NACO) and the other from the Pew Charitable Trusts, provide new data on the gaps in access to broadband and some tactics for how states can effectively develop their broadband expansion projects.


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