On Thursday, the Obama Administration announced creation of a White House Rural Council to address rural economic potentials as well as challenges. In his executive order, President Obama said it was established "to make sure we're working across government to strengthen rural communities and promote economic growth."
"Across government" are key words. While the council will be chaired by USDA Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, it includes the heads of 26 Executive Branch departments, agencies, and offices. Vilsack is the only one representing rural America.
The first goal of its mission is to make recommendations to the directors of the Domestic Policy Council and the National Economic Council. Those recommendations are to focus on streamlining and leveraging federal investments in rural areas and creating economic opportunities to improve quality of life in rural America.
The council would make recommendations for investments in rural areas and coordinate programs across government to encourage public-private partnerships with ag organizations, small businesses, and state, local and tribal governments. Rural America has enormous opportunity and "makes significant contributions to the security, prosperity, and economic strength of our country," says Vilsack.
The White House Rural Council will focus on job creation and economic development. In coming months, it'll begin exploring ways to increase the flow of capital to rural areas, promote innovation plus expand digital and physical networks. Key growth areas include:
Jobs: Improve job training and workforce development
Agriculture: Expand markets, including regional food systems and exports
Credit access: Expand access to local capital
Innovation: Promote expansion of biofuels production abnd community based renewable energy projects
Networks: Develop high-growth regional economies
Health Care: Improve access to quality health care through technology systems
Education: Increase post-secondary enrollment rates and completion
Broadband: Increase broadband opportunities
Ecosystem markets: Expand opportunities for conservation, outdoor opportunities and economic growth on working lands and public lands