WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Representative Abigail Spanberger helped introduce legislation to give rural communities new, flexible funding for local economic development projects.
Federal grant funding is often inaccessible to rural communities and too inflexible to fully meet local development needs. This process makes it difficult for rural communities to plan and implement the comprehensive, long-term development projects required to address the complex challenges they face.
The Rebuild Rural America Act would streamline the federal government’s support of rural economic development projects by creating a Rural Future Partnership Fund through the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). The Rural Future Partnership Fund would provide $50 billion of multi-year, flexible block grants to rural regions that have traditionally found federal grants to be inflexible and narrow in scope. By allowing eligible communities to automatically receive a commitment of five-year, renewable funding to support local economic development projects, this bill would give greater certainty to rural communities as they plan their economic development and infrastructure projects.
“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.”
Spanberger introduced the legislation alongside U.S. Representative Antonio Delgado (D-NY-19)—who led the introduction of the bill, as well as U.S. Representatives Cheri Bustos (D-IL-17) and Angie Craig (D-MN-02).
“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,” said Delgado. “I introduced the Rebuild Rural America Act in the House 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.”
“We need continued investment in our rural communities to spur economic growth in our local economies,” said Bustos. “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.”
“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 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.”
Specifically, the Rebuild Rural America Act would:
- 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,
- 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 to bring 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, and
- 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.
A companion bill to this legislation has been introduced in the U.S. Senate by U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY).