Last week I wrote about $350 million in the Farm Bill for broadband. Today I found, what I think is another pocket of funding that might also help with broadband and/or rural technology projects. Binghamtom writes about Senator Gillibrand’s bipartisan Rural Jobs and Investment Act…
Washington, DC – U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand today announced that her bipartisan bill, the Rural Jobs and Investment Act, has passed the Senate as part of the final conferenced version of the Farm Bill. The legislation now heads to the House of Representatives for a final vote. Gillibrand’s legislation 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.
Here is what it proposes to fund…
This bill would invest in rural communities through a Rural Innovation Stronger Economy (RISE) Grant Program through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Rural Business-Cooperative Service. This program would award grants of $500,000 to $2 million each to locally-driven “rural jobs accelerator partnerships” made up of entrepreneurs, local leaders, investment organizations, and training providers to improve their local economy and position their region to be more competitive.
This funding would be flexible and provide transformative investments that can meet multiple needs of rural communities, including:
Developing innovation centers to serve as space for mixed-use housing, business development, training, and co-working opportunities, and help redevelop community downtowns;
Fostering networking and collaboration among local entrepreneurs;
Helping rural entrepreneurs and businesses connect to new markets;
Turning more research and development at universities and other research institutions into new companies and business growth;
Facilitating the on-shoring of high-wage jobs in rural communities;
Providing skills training to prepare workers for quality jobs and provide businesses with the workforce they need for success;
Investing in infrastructure upgrades required to support new business growth, including the deployment of high-speed broadband service.
I’m not clear as to how this fits in with the previously mentioned $350 million but it does appear to be a separate pool. And even if that last bullet point gets lumped in with the $350 million, the other projects listed would help communities better use technology.