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This morning, President Obama signed an Executive Order establishing a White House Rural Council, the first entity of its kind established to focus on policy initiatives for Rural Americans. The President’s signature on this document represents a truly historic moment for the nation. I am honored to serve as the Chair of the Council and work directly with my Cabinet colleagues from across the federal government to improve the economic conditions and quality of life for millions of Rural Americans.
President Obama has already established an impressive record in rural areas, which the Rural Council will build on. The Administration’s record includes substantial investments in rural America to modernize our Nation’s infrastructure, provide broadband access to 10 million Americans, enhance energy independence, expand educational opportunities, and provide affordable health care. Nevertheless, the President believes that even more needs to be done in order to fully capitalize on the emerging opportunities in Rural America. Despite recent advances, rural communities continue to struggle to maintain the population and businesses needed for sustained economic growth.
The White House Rural Council will focus on actions to better coordinate and streamline federal program efforts in rural America, and to better leverage federal investments. The collaboration will result in better programs and services in rural communities and will maximize the benefits of those programs.
Economic growth, prosperity, and the creation of quality jobs are on the minds of every citizen. This morning, the White House Rural Council met and discussed ways to increase the availability of working capital investment. This is absolutely essential in order for small towns and rural areas to attract new businesses, spur growth and create jobs. This is especially true in the sectors of economic growth involving new technological innovations and development of renewable energy – areas where Rural America has the most promise, but faces the most difficult competitive challenges.
In addition, I am greatly looking forward to utilizing the Rural Council as a means of connecting with Rural America and to continue the important dialogue the Administration has worked to establish with rural communities since 2009 regarding the needs and challenges that Rural America faces. In the coming months, my Cabinet colleagues and I will be communicating with Rural America to ensure that every American is aware of the programs and services they can access. And we will get the most direct and current input from rural stakeholders to ensure we provide the best service possible.
In the end, millions of Americans are counting on us to ensure that young people growing up in rural places have a bright future ahead – that they can envision a tomorrow that includes a job, and a vibrant rural community that they can call home. Ensuring that tomorrow begins with the actions we take today. And today, I am proud to be part of the President’s White House Rural Council and to help “Win the Future” for Rural America.