Washington, DC – U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand today announced that she has included her bipartisan amendment, the Rural Jobs and Investment Act, in the Farm Bill that the Senate is considering on the floor this week. Gillibrand’s proposal, which has bipartisan support in the Senate, would expand access to much-needed resources and investment for rural entrepreneurs in Upstate New York to start and expand local businesses. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 57% percent of rural communities throughout New York State saw more businesses close than open from 2012 to 2016.
“One of my most important priorities in this year’s Farm Bill is bringing jobs back to our rural communities,” said Senator Gillibrand, a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee. “There are so many hardworking New Yorkers in rural communities all over our state who have great ideas to start new businesses. My bipartisan Rural Jobs and Investment Act would make it easier for these entrepreneurs to get their ideas up and running, it would promote investment in our rural communities, and it would create jobs. I will continue doing everything I can in the Senate to make sure that this amendment passes into law.”
Gillibrand’s amendment creates a new grant program to invest in local efforts to launch new companies and create new jobs in New York’s rural communities. The grant program would invest up to $2 million per award to community-driven initiatives to help improve the local economies of rural areas by doing the following:
- Helping rural entrepreneurs and businesses connect to new markets;
- Providing skills training to prepare workers for quality jobs and providing businesses with the workforce they need for success;
- Investing in infrastructure upgrades required to support new business growth, including the deployment of high-speed internet service;
- Turning more research and development at universities and other research institutions into new companies and business growth; and
- Revitalizing downtowns with new innovation centers to serve as spaces for mixed-use housing, business development, training, and co-working.
This bipartisan proposal would also expand the use of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Community Facilities Program to invest in business incubators, makerspaces, and job training centers to provide additional resources for communities to support their entrepreneurs. The Community Facilities Program provides direct loans, loan guarantees, and grants to improve public services and public facilities in rural communities.
In addition, the amendment would also expand access to capital for rural entrepreneurs by encouraging investment to rural areas. Currently, the USDA has one program to help address these capital challenges, the Rural Business Investment Program, but this program is limited in the types of industries that it can invest in, as well as the amount of capital it can attract. Gillibrand’s amendment would improve the program to allow investments across all industries, encouraging more capital to be invested in rural entrepreneurs.
This bipartisan amendment is cosponsored by U.S. Senator Bill Cassidy (R-LA) and U.S. Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC), and has been endorsed by the American Farm Bureau, Farm Credit Council, National Association of Counties, National Association of Development Organizations, National Cooperative Business Association, and the Rural Community Assistance Partnership.