Federal partners unite to help rural communities with environmental and economic goals

December 8, 2011 | General RCAP News

WASHINGTON – U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Deputy Administrator Robert Perciasepe and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan spent the day Nov. 17 in rural North Carolina discussing the Obama administration’s work to strengthen rural economies. Perciasepe and Merrigan hosted a White House Rural Council meeting with local officials, community organizations, and businesses to discuss the benefits the American Jobs Act can have on rural communities and share a new report highlighting how small towns and rural places across the country are using federal resources to enhance economic vitality and protect the environment.

Developed by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), and EPA Partnership for Sustainable Communities in cooperation with USDA, the Supporting Sustainable Rural Communities report is the Obama administration’s latest effort to better coordinate federal programs for rural communities. The report discusses federal programs that help rural America, presents sample funding mechanisms and technical-assistance opportunities and performance measures rural communities can use, and includes case studies showcasing rural accomplishments.

“The Obama administration is committed to supporting economic development in rural communities through its landmark Partnership for Sustainable Communities report and through multiple provisions in the American Jobs Act,” said Perciasepe. “Strategic use of federal programs, like those detailed in the report released today, can help strengthen these communities and revitalize their economies while preserving their rural heritage.”

“By working together, HUD, DOT, EPA, and USDA are making it easier for rural communities to access federal funding and use it to implement local and regional priorities,” said Merrigan. “Coordinating federal investments achieves better results on the ground, meeting multiple economic, environmental, and community objectives with each dollar spent.”

"All of us at HUD are excited for the release of this report because it gives us an opportunity to share what we already know: small towns and rural communities around the country are using the federal resources from our Partnership for Sustainable Communities in exciting and innovative ways to create jobs for American workers and spur economic growth for American families," said Acting HUD Deputy Secretary Estelle Richman.

“This report illustrates the many successfully federally supported programs that help achieve the Obama administration's vision for livability," said Deputy Secretary of Transportation John Porcari. "By building sustainable communities in rural areas and connecting these communities through greener transportation, we are helping provide a brighter future for ourselves and our children.”

Deputies Perciasepe and Merrigan unveiled the report in Brevard, N.C., a small community that is creating jobs and improving quality of life for its residents by building on its natural resources, traditional downtown, and experience with agriculture and manufacturing. Brevard and the region have used federal investments to enhance economic vitality in a way that is sustainable and homegrown. Supporting Sustainable Rural Communities contains case studies of 12 other rural communities and regions that are using federal resources to achieve their economic and land use visions, including:

  • Grand Canyon National Park, Ariz.
  • Lake Village, Ark.
  • Waverly, Iowa
  • Greensburg, Kan.
  • Bowling Green, Ky.
  • Hancock County, Maine
  • North Central Montana
  • Maupin, Ore.
  • Howard, S.D.
  • Pine Ridge Reservation, S.D.
  • Rural Tennessee
  • Ranson and Charles Town, W.Va.

The Partnership for Sustainable Communities is a joint effort of HUD, DOT, and EPA to coordinate federal actions on housing, transportation, and environmental protection. USDA is working with the partnership to help serve rural communities.

At the White House Rural Council Meeting, Deputies Perciasepe and Merrigan discussed the benefits the American Jobs Act would have in North Carolina. The act will provide a tax cut for over 170,000 businesses, support the jobs of 13,400 teachers and first responders and immediately provide a job for over 10,400 construction workers through infrastructure improvements. A typical household in North Carolina will receive a tax cut of around $1,300.

More information on Supporting Sustainable Rural Communities

More information on the Partnership for Sustainable Communities and to read the report

More information on the American Jobs Act in North Carolina