WASHINGTON, DC—Today, U.S. Representative Cheri Bustos (IL-17), along with Reps. Antonio Delgado (NY-19), Angie Craig (MN-02) and Abigail Spanberger (VA-07) introduced the Rebuild Rural America Act in the House. The legislation would improve the way that the federal government supports economic development projects in small towns and rural communities to better fit their specific needs. This bill would create the Rural Future Partnership Fund through USDA, which would provide a $50 billion multi-year, flexible block grants to rural regions that have trouble navigating the complex federal grants process. This funding would allow eligible communities to automatically receive a commitment of five-year, renewable funding to support progress on the region’s locally developed goals and objectives. This will ensure that the federal government complements local economic development efforts to help make local economies more resilient, ensuring our rural communities are places in which anyone can live, work, raise a family and retire.
“We need continued investment in our rural communities to spur economic growth in our local economies,” Rep. Cheri Bustos said. “The Rebuild Rural America Act would better position our communities to address some of the unique issues they face and provide them with the resources needed to do so. I’m proud to join my colleagues on this legislation and will continue to work to make Northwest and Central Illinois a great place to live, work and raise a family.”
“During the last in-district work period, I focused on rural infrastructure and broadband needs in NY-19, and heard from community leaders across the district about the challenges they face when seeking federal grant funding. From Hobart to Hunter and all across the district, our communities have significant rural infrastructure needs to compete in the modern economy.” Rep. Antonio Delgado continued, “I introduced the Rebuild Rural America Act (RRAA) in the House today because our rural communities shouldn’t be held back by federal bureaucracy, but instead have the opportunity and resources to access federal dollars and rebuild aging infrastructure. My bill would create a Rural Future Partnership Fund that would provide a $50 billion investment to rural communities. This new kind of federal partnership would provide rural areas with flexible block grants for five-years, giving them the money, time, and ability to carry out regional economic development goals. I’m proud to champion the Rebuild Rural America Act and work to make sure that communities have the resources to finally repair aging firehouses, repave sidewalks, replace old and failing water systems and promote economic opportunity.”
“Small towns across Minnesota’s Second Congressional District make up the fabric of our communities, and right now they need our partnership to continue thriving,” said Rep. Angie Craig. “The Rebuild Rural America Act provides flexible funding for rural areas to create and implement revitalization plans tailored to their priorities, whether that’s fueling entrepreneurship, increasing access to public services, or investing in high-quality child care. I am proud to support this commonsense legislation to further my commitment to Greater Minnesota.”
“Central Virginia’s rural areas are home to successful businesses and great public schools, and these communities are always looking to attract new talent. But due to the smaller size of these areas, local leaders often have difficulty finding the resources to apply for grant funding that could support expanded high-speed internet access, revitalized main streets, or strengthened workforce training programs,” said Rep. Abigail Spanberger. “Through the Rural Future Partnership Fund, this bill would give our rural areas additional support to make critical infrastructure investments and help recruit new workers and families to call their communities home. I’d like to thank Congressman Delgado for leading the introduction of this legislation—and I look forward to finding additional ways to spur economic growth in the Seventh District and across rural America.”
Federal grant funding is often inaccessible to rural communities and too inflexible to fully meet local development needs. This makes it difficult for rural communities and small towns to plan and implement the comprehensive, long-term development projects required to address the complex challenges they face. The Rebuild Rural America Act would establish a dedicated stream of federal funding for rural communities and provide guaranteed, multi-year, flexible block grants to support regional economic growth. This would help rural communities better plan for and encourage economic growth across regions.
Specifically, the Rebuild Rural America Act would do the following:
- Create a new $50 billion grant program, the Rural Future Partnership Fund, to provide non-competitive, five-year, renewable block grants to certified rural regions to implement locally-developed regional revitalization plans.
- Funding will be allocated proportionately based on the population of each region, with an increased allocation for regions that include areas that have a poverty rate greater than 20 percent.
- Eligible regions include those with a central community of 10,000 to 50,000 people, collections of rural census tracts or counties outside of regions with a central community of 10,000 to 50,000 people, and Indian reservations. States, in coordination with USDA, will certify the regions’ participation in the program.
- Encourage rural regions to develop comprehensive, collaborative, and locally-driven community and economic development plans that revitalize infrastructure, provide support for public services and job training and foster local entrepreneurship.
- Require interested rural regions to form a Regional Rural Partnership Council that brings together local leaders, elected officials, economic development organizations, cooperatives, higher education institutions, foundations and other entities important to regional development.
- Empower rural community leaders by creating national capacity and training programs that will help connect the expertise and resources of the USDA and national and regional technical assistance providers with rural regions.
- Establish a State-by-State Rural Innovation and Partnership Administration to oversee this new program and offer hands-on help to local leaders.
- Launch a Rural Future Corps in coordination with AmeriCorps to assist rural communities with implementing Rural Partnership Plans and expanding critical services including childcare, health services, nutrition assistance, education and job training.
The Rebuild Rural America Act was introduced in the House today, following a press event at Hudson Hall this week along with the RRAA Senate lead, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (NY). This bill has been endorsed by the Center on Rural Innovation, Fahe, Family Farm Action, Farm Credit Council, Housing Assistance Council (HAC), Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC), National Association of Counties, National Association of Development Organizations, National Farmers Union, New England Farmers Union, People’s Action, Rural Community Assistance Corporation (RCAC), National Cooperative Business Association, The Rural Community Assistance Partnership (RCAP), and United Action for Idaho.
More details of the legislation may be found here.