Gillibrand introduces new legislation to help improve rural New York

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CORNING, N.Y. (WETM-TV) – U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand visited Corning Community College to unveil her 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.

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,toprovide non-competitive, five-year, renewable block grants to certified rural regions to implement locally-developed regional revitalization plans.

o   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.

o   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.

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