Hudson, NY – U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Congressman Antonio Delgado (D-NY-19) today visited Hudson Hall to unveil their new legislation that would prioritize federal investment for rural communities and small towns across New York State. The Rebuild Rural America Act would improve the way that the federal government supports development projects in small towns and rural communities in order to better fit their specific needs.
“Rural communities are at the very heart of New York, and their development is key to helping our state, and our nation, succeed. These communities face complex challenges that demand comprehensive and long-term solutions, but the current federal grant system is too narrow and inflexible to fully address their needs,” said Senator Gillibrand. “We have to reimagine how the federal government partners with and invests in rural communities, which is why I am proud to unveil the Rebuild Rural America Act. My bill would encourage rural communities to come together as a region and rebuild their economies. I’m proud to partner with Congressman Delgado in this effort to deliver our rural communities the federal support they actually need, and this bill is a good place to start.”
“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 grants. From Hobart to Hunter and all across the district, our communities have significant rural infrastructure needs to compete in the modern economy.” Congressman Delgado continued, “Today, I’m announcing the introduction of the Rebuild Rural America Act (RRAA) in the House to make sure upstate communities have the opportunity and resources to access federal funding and rebuild aging infrastructure. This bill gives rural communities the funding, flexibility, and technical assistance to do what they know will best help their towns — including building firehouses, repaving sidewalks, replacing old and failing water systems, and supporting economic development to make sure our upstate communities have what they need to grow and thrive.”
“We’re thrilled to welcome Senator Gillibrand and Congressman Delgado to Hudson Hall and applaud the leadership of our New York State representatives for their sponsorship of the Rebuild Rural America Act. With thanks to the support of our representatives, we were able to secure critical funding from the State of New York and the U.S.D.A. to restore our landmark building and return it to community use as a vibrant arts and cultural center. The Rebuild Rural America Act creates a cohesive blueprint for rural prosperity that will only have a multiplier effect on the creative economy spurring our region’s revival,” said Tambra Dillon, Executive Director, Hudson Hall.
“The Rebuild Rural America Act proposes an important new policy that offers real solutions to the unique challenges facing rural places,” said Tom Vilsack, former Secretary of Agriculture in the Obama Administration. “Unique to this proposal is the element of partnership in every aspect of a comprehensive vision for a powerful rural economy and an improved quality of community life for rural regions across the country. This bill places a premium on rural communities leading the effort with government assistance and carves out an expanded role for cooperatives to play in rebuilding the rural economy, all of which are essential to the success and prosperity of rural America.”
Federal grant funding is often inaccessible to rural communities and too inflexible to fully meet local development needs. This makes it difficult for rural communities and small towns to plan and implement the comprehensive, long-term development projects required to address the complex challenges they face. The Rebuild Rural America Act would establish a dedicated stream of federal funding for rural communities and provide guaranteed, multi-year, flexible block grants to support regional economic growth. This would help rural communities better plan for and encourage economic growth across regions.
Specifically, the Rebuild Rural America Act would do the following:
- 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.
- Funding will be allocated proportionately based on the population of each region, with an increased allocation for regions that include areas that have a poverty rate greater than 20 percent.
- Eligible regions include those with a central community of 10,000 to 50,000 people, collections of rural census tracts or counties outside of regions with a central community of 10,000 to 50,000 people, and Indian reservations. States, in coordination with USDA, will certify the regions’ participation in the program.
- 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 that brings 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.
- 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.
Gillibrand and Delgado will introduce the Rebuild Rural America Act in Congress this week. This bill has been endorsed by the Center on Rural Innovation, Fahe, Family Farm Action, Farm Credit Council, Housing Assistance Council (HAC), Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC), National Association of Counties, National Association of Development Organizations, National Farmers Union, New England Farmers Union, People’s Action, Rural Community Assistance Corporation (RCAC), The Rural Community Assistance Partnership (RCAP), and United Action for Idaho.
More details of the legislation may be found here.