Although rural America's economy outpaced its urban counterpart in 2010, weather-related disasters in 2011 may stall the recovery. A new White House Rural Council was announced last week to help meet these challenges.
"The Rural Council announced by President Obama shows his continued focus on promoting economic opportunity, creating jobs, and enhancing the quality of life for those who life in rural America," said Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack.
The White House Rural Council will coordinate programs across government to encourage private-pubblic partnerships. 'In a time of scarce resources, we want to work together in smart and creative ways and leverage those resources," Vilsack said.
The Council will begin by discussing key factors for growth, including:
Jobs: Improve job training and workforce development
Agriculture: Expand markets, including regional food systems and exports
Access to Credit: Increase opportunity by expanding access to capital and fostering local investment
Innovation: Promote expansion of biofuels production capacity and community-based renewable energy projects
Networks: Develop high-growth regional economies by capitalizing on inherent regional strengths
Health care: Improve access to quality care through expansion of health technology systems
Education: Increase post-secondary enrollment rates and completion for rural students
Broadband: Support the administration's plan to increase broadband opportunities
Infrastructure: Coordinate investment in critical infrastructure
Ecosystem markets: Expand opportunities for conservation, outdoor opportunities and economic
growth on working lands and public lands
"Moms and Dads want to be able to talk to their kids about job opportunities in rural areas," Vilsack said. "They have great concerns that there aren't adequate rural options."