Ed note: this article was cross-posted from the Department of Transportation's blog
Visiting the Illinois State Fair is one of my favorite summertime traditions. From livestock competitions to concerts to a giant butter cow, the Fair is great opportunity to spend time with my grandkids and see everything that Illinois has to offer.
But my visit to the Fair on Friday wasn’t only about fun and games. As part of the President's efforts to reach out to people in America's heartland, I was pleased to lead a roundtable with members of the Illinois Chamber of Commerce, small business owners, farmers, rural organizations, and government officials to hear their ideas about what DOT can do to continue expanding opportunities for them.
Look, every day, President Obama, Vice President Biden, and all of us in this Administration are working hard to put Americans back on the jobsite. We know that continued federal investments in rural communities will create construction jobs and ensure that farmers and ranchers have the roads, rail lines, and ports they need to move their products to market.
We have worked hard to create opportunities across all regions of the U.S., and during our first two years in office, we put Americans to work on more than 7,000 individual transportation projects in rural areas.
When the rural economy in America is growing and prospering, the overall economy benefits. President Obama and this Administration won't be satisfied until every American who wants work can find a job, and we're working tirelessly to accelerate our economy recovery.
DOT is doing our part to help rural communities thrive. Earlier this month, we released guidance for states to make sure they clearly understand the very common-sense exceptions to regulations governing the transport of agricultural products, which allow farmers, their employees, and their family members to accomplish their day-to-day work and get their products to market.
DOT is now in the third round of funding for the Transportation Investments Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) program, a competitive grants program that has helped a number of rural cities and towns build innovative projects and lay the foundation for future economic growth. Through this program we have also invested in safety--we have already funded 24 major rural projects to replace unsafe bridges, and make roads safer.
Friday's roundtable was a great opportunity to speak to Americans who live in rural areas and work every day to keep our heartland's economy thriving. I hope to keep the dialogue open and look forward to continuing DOT's work expanding opportunities and supporting economic growth in rural communities across America.