(INDIANAPOLIS) – United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) State Director for Indiana Michael Dora today announced that Spencer County Collaboration Steering Committee Rockport has been selected to receive technical assistance to help create and implement long-term economic development plans.
“USDA and its partners Purdue University and University of Kentucky are bringing local leaders and economic development experts together to create opportunities for Spencer County,” said Dora. “This technical assistance will benefit seven communities in the county.”
Spencer County will use the planning assistance to support housing and infrastructure development. Spencer County includes the city of Rockport, town of Dale, town of Santa Claus, town of Chrisney, town of Grandview, town of Richland, and the town of Gentryville.
Dora’s announcement is in coordination with the recent announcement made by Acting Assistant to the Secretary for Rural Development Joel Baxley releasing the names of47 rural communities and regions that will receive technical assistance.
USDA is providing the assistance through an initiative called Rural Economic Development Innovation (REDI). USDA’s Innovation Center created REDI to support recommendations identified in the Report to the President from the Interagency Task Force on Agriculture and Rural Prosperity.
Each of the 47 communities and regions will be paired with one of four partner organizations that will provide free technical assistance for up to two years to help rural towns and regions create and implement economic development plans. USDA awarded $1.2 million in cooperative agreements to these partners in September 2018. The agreements will help the partners finance the free technical assistance.
The partners are the National Association of Counties Research Foundation, the Rural Community Assistance Partnership, McClure Engineering Company, and Purdue University Extension/Community & Economic Development Initiative of Kentucky.
The following is a brief overview of the type of assistance each partner will provide:
- The National Association of Counties Research Foundation is partnering with the National Association of Regional Councils to develop a peer-learning program. Local and regional leaders in six rural communities and regions will be trained to implement multi-jurisdictional economic development plans and projects. The program will include workshops, team mentoring, educational webinars, community case studies and interactive learning.
- McClure Engineering Company is partnering with CO.STARTERS, a Tennessee-based consulting firm, to help four rural communities and regions build plans to spur economic and community development, strengthen workforce readiness programs, and support entrepreneurship.
- Purdue University Extension and Community & Economic Development Initiative of Kentucky will support eight communities and regions to build long-term economic development plans by leveraging public and private funding sources.
- The Rural Community Assistance Partnership will provide technical assistance to 29 rural communities and regions through the organization’s WealthWorks model. This model will help rural regions and communities identify and market local assets.
In April 2017, President Donald J. Trump established the Interagency Task Force on Agriculture and Rural Prosperity to identify legislative, regulatory and policy changes that could promote agriculture and prosperity in rural communities. In January 2018, Secretary Perdue presented the Task Force’s findings to President Trump. These findings included 31 recommendations to align the federal government with state, local and tribal governments to take advantage of opportunities that exist in rural America.