LOWVILLE, NY –– Today, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand stood with local leaders at the Double Play Community Center in Lowville to announce her Rebuild Rural America Act, legislation that would invest $50 billion in rural economic development, infrastructure, schools, hospitals, and small businesses. The bill would address the challenges specific to rural America and make it easier for rural communities to access federal funding and other resources.
“New York’s rural communities face a variety of unique challenges, but too often, the federal government has failed to adequately support them,” said Senator Gillibrand. “My Rebuild Rural America Act will invest $50 billion into rural America to help communities build schools, expand child care access, catalyze private investment, train workers for in-demand jobs, and bolster critical infrastructure. I look forward to getting this legislation passed in the Farm Bill this year.”
“The economic development needs of rural communities are different than those of cities and suburbs. Efforts to focus on broadband connectivity, population growth, childcare, and job training are essential for the growth of communities like Lewis County,” said Lawrence L. Dolhof, Chairman, Lewis County Board of Legislators. “We are proud to partner with Sen. Gillibrand to push forward more legislation focused on rural communities like ours.”
“North Country businesses and North Country people in general are the best in the world at making every penny count. Likewise, Naturally Lewis’ mission is to leverage ‘big’ projects to have real tangible impact on the little guys,” said Cheyenne Steria, Director of Finance & Incentives, Naturally Lewis. “We are excited for the opportunity to work with Senator Gillibrand and our partners to leverage funding from the Rebuild Rural America Act to maximize our grassroots efforts to build small businesses from the ground up. We recognize that economic development is about more than the bottom line and building our community – through schools, hospitals, infrastructure and access to childcare is intrinsic to our mission and our future.”
Specifically, the Rebuild Rural America Act would:
Establish a Rural Future Partnership Fund that would create a $50 billion block grant program for long-term rural economic development projects, including investments in child care centers, public schools, libraries, community centers, health care providers, workforce development programs, emergency preparedness programs, main street revitalization programs, and water and sewer facilities, among others. In contrast with existing funding opportunities, which often require arduous applications that recipients must reapply through each year, the fund would provide grantees with 5 years of guaranteed funding. This streamlined process would allow communities to make longer-term investments and would ease administrative burdens on local governments.
Make it easier for rural communities to access federal funds and other resources by establishing a USDA Rural Innovation and Partnership Administration. This administration would work directly with local leaders to provide information on available federal resources, technical assistance, and cutting-edge data to help them craft and implement rural revitalization plans to make government helpful, not a hassle.
Fight population loss from rural areas by launching the Rural Future Corps, a program that would place AmeriCorps Fellows in rural communities and help these communities expand critical services like child care, health, nutrition assistance, education, and job training. The program would also work to retain members in rural communities after their year of service.
Empower local leaders, who know their communities best, to drive regional economic development through a new suite of national capacity and training programs to connect the expertise of national technical assistance providers with rural regions.