FACT SHEET: Increasing Investment in Rural America
WASHINGTON, DC – This week, the White House Rural Council will host the inaugural Rural Opportunity Investment Conference (ROI) to promote potential investment opportunities that exist throughout rural America. Top leaders from the business community and financial institutions, senior government officials, rural economic development experts and others from across the country, will come together to discuss ways to develop partnerships that create jobs, grow small businesses, and invest in critical rural infrastructure.
In conjunction with this event, the White House Rural Council is announcing a $10 billion dollar investment fund to promote rural economic development. This fund will continue to grow the rural economy by increasing access to capital for rural infrastructure projects and speeding up the process of rural infrastructure improvements. The fund is immediately open for business and more investors can now add to the initial $10 billion in available capital.
The ROI conference and the new investment fund are part of the Obama Administration's ongoing efforts to promote investment in rural America, strengthen the nation’s infrastructure, and grow the U.S. economy. Since the creation of the White House Rural Council in 2011, the President has made historic investments in rural America designed to drive job growth, invest in rural education, provide emergency services, and address health disparities.
Public-Partnerships at Work
Rural Infrastructure Opportunity Fund. The U.S. Rural Infrastructure Opportunity Fund represents a new approach to catalyzing private investment in infrastructure projects in rural America. CoBank, a national cooperative bank serving rural America and a member of the Farm Credit System, is the fund's anchor investor, committing $10 billion to get the fund off the ground. Capitol Peak Asset Management will manage the new fund and work to recruit more investors to add to CoBank’s initial commitment. The Rural Infrastructure Opportunity Fund will allow America's rural economy to continue its forward momentum by enhancing access to capital for rural infrastructure projects and speeding up the process of rural infrastructure improvements. The fund is immediately open for business and more investors can now add to the initial $10 billion in available capital. The new fund will allow a wide variety of new participants, including pension funds, endowments, foundations, and other institutional investors that have not traditionally had access to these markets to invest in rural development. In some cases, projects may be funded entirely through private sector dollars. In others, private dollars may be leveraged with and extend critical government loan and grant programs. USDA and other agencies will help to identify rural projects in need of financing through the new fund and through other such private sources and public-private partnerships. Target investments will include rural community facilities (especially health care and educational facilities), rural water and wastewater systems, rural energy projects, rural broadband expansion efforts, local and regional food systems, and other rural infrastructure.
Over $150 Million Investment Funds to Grow Small Businesses, Create Jobs in Rural America. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced the creation of an investment fund earlier this year that will help propel the growth of small businesses across rural America. The new rural equity fund will facilitate private equity investments in agriculture-related businesses. Advantage Capital Agribusiness Partners, which will manage the new fund, and nine Farm Credit institution partners, have pledged to invest over $150 million into the new effort. USDA programs have historically provided loans or loan guarantees to help rural businesses grow, but before the creation of the Rural Business Investment Program, many small cutting-edge businesses did not have the opportunity to obtain equity support. With the creation and implementation of this new program, USDA is pleased to announce this first of multiple rural equity funds. USDA is currently accepting applications for additional new rural equity funds.
$9.9 Million to Improve Health Care Quality and Address Rural Health Disparities. The Department of Health and Human Services continues its efforts as part of the President's Improving Rural Health Care Initiative with $5.5 million to the Delta State Rural Development Network Grant program and $4.3 million for the Small Health Care Provider Quality Improvement grant program. The Delta Network program invests in each of the eight States of the Delta region to address long-standing health care disparities. The Small Health Care Provider Quality program supports 29 grants that help rural health clinics, community health centers and small rural hospitals improve health care outcomes for rural residents with chronic diseases such as diabetes, hypertension and obesity.
Supporting Small, Rural Businesses. Small businesses create about two out of every three jobs in the U.S. each year, and roughly half of working Americans either own or work for a small business. Small businesses are particularly crucial to the rural economy.
Rural Entrepreneurship Initiative. The American Farm Bureau Federation and Georgetown University's McDonough School of Business Global Social Enterprise Initiative are collaborating on a multi-year partnership providing tools and solutions to help strengthen rural America. In the partnership's inaugural year, the focus will be on building greater economic security by launching a Rural Entrepreneurship Initiative together with Startup Hoyas, Georgetown's Entrepreneurship Initiative. Several opportunities will be announced for people interested in rural issues across the U.S. to actively engage with Farm Bureau and the Rural Entrepreneurship Initiative, including an online educational series, the first of its kind rural entrepreneurship challenge and a national summit scheduled for October 14th at Georgetown University. The White House Rural Council will partner with Farm Bureau and Global Social Enterprise Initiative to plan the national summit at Georgetown University.
Made in Rural America. Earlier this year, the President directed the White House Rural Council to bring together federal resources to help rural businesses and leaders take advantage of new investment opportunities and access new customers and markets abroad. Department of Commerce Secretary Pritzker, Department of Agriculture Secretary Vilsack, Small Business Administration Administrator Contreras-Sweet, US Trade Representative Froman, and Export-Import Bank Chairman Hochberg are leading forums in rural America this summer to highlight opportunities for rural manufactures, value added producers, and service providers to grow their businesses by expanding to international markets. The partnership will also host a “Made in Native America” forum this fall to help Native-owned businesses access export opportunities.
Expanding Partnerships. The Administration recognizes that effective partnerships have a catalytic impact on achieving the Administration priorities, such as increasing opportunity and economic growth in rural America. Good ideas generated by the ROI Conference will be carried forward by the following partnership networks.
Regional Conservation Partnership Program. The newly stood up Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) takes an innovative approach to furthering conservation, restoration, and sustainable use of soil, water, and wildlife on a regional scale. The program enables partners, using a competitive process, to propose conservation projects that will leverage federal dollars with non-profit, producer, and non-traditional investors in areas of the country with critical conservation needs. The RCPP will invest more than $1.2 billion in natural resource conservation with a goal of doubling that effort through partnership contributions over the next five years.
Georgetown University Law Center's Public Private Partnership Symposium. In conjunction with the White House Rural Council's Rural Opportunity Investment Conference, the Georgetown University Law Center will introduce its inaugural Public Private Partnership Symposium. Over the coming year, the Georgetown Law will host three full-day sessions to advance the ideas and lessons discussed at the Rural Opportunity Investment Conference. By bringing together private sector leaders, government officials, and academic scholars, the symposium will broaden opportunities for partnering, provide a venue for sharing knowledge and best practices, and promote economic growth.
The Build America Investment Initiative. The Administration is committed to increasing public private partnerships and collaboration on U.S. infrastructure. Just last week, the President announced the new Build America Investment Initiative, which will use executive authorities to increase the flow of private capital into transportation, water, energy and other infrastructure sectors. The ROI conference will directly inform the ongoing work of the Build America Initiative, helping federal agencies to encourage more investment into rural communities and to key rural infrastructure sectors.
The Rural Health Philanthropy Partnership. This partnership between the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Office of Rural Health Policy, Grantmakers in Health and the National Rural Health Association includes more than 30 State and regional Foundations and Trusts that seek to improve health care in rural communities. In 2015, the Partnership is undertaking a Rural Funding Challenge with HHS dedicating $5 million and seeking a matched effort from the philanthropic community.
White House Rural Council's Sustained Support for the Rural Economy
Today's announcements build on three years of sustained work by the White House Rural Council to expand opportunity in all corners of rural America. The Rural Council has over twenty policy accomplishments supporting rural America in four priority areas: quality of life, innovation, economic opportunity, and conservation. These advancements will help ensure the development of a rural economy built to last. These actions include:
Increasing Capital Access for Rural Small Businesses
USDA and SBA committed to providing $175 million in microloans to small businesses in rural areas for Fiscal Years 2013 and 2014, in addition to new business training and counseling opportunities. To date the two agencies have supported over $85 million to rural small businesses.
Accelerating Broadband Infrastructure Deployment
On June 14, 2012 President Obama signed an Executive Order to make broadband construction along Federal roadways and properties up to 90 percent cheaper and more efficient. U.S agencies that manage Federal properties and roads are partnering to offer carriers a single approach to leasing Federal assets for broadband deployment. Providing a uniform approach for broadband carriers to build networks is speeding the delivery of connectivity to communities, business, and schools in rural America. In order to further expand the nation’s broadband service, more than 25 cities and 60 national research universities are partnering to form "US Ignite." US Ignite is creating a new wave of services that will extend programmable broadband networks to 100 times the speed of today's internet. To further leverage private-sector involvement, a three-day Application Summit was conducted this June at the headquarters of Juniper Networks in Silicon Valley. This session made numerous connections that will strengthen rural and urban communities through innovative broadband applications. In total, this partnership will improve services to Americans and drive job creation, promote innovation, and create new markets for American business.
U.S Department of Education Investing in Rural Schools
Through the national broadband plan, the Obama Administration is leveraging the power of technology to overcome distance and increase collaboration to accelerate student achievement in rural schools. The White House Rural Council partnered with the U.S Department of Education to deliver a new online community of practice groups for rural schools. This online tool is creating virtual communities of practice for educators to connect to resources, tools, colleagues, experts, and learned activities both within and beyond schools. As part of the push for broadband in public schools, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is investing $2 billion over the next two years to dramatically expand high-speed Internet connectivity for America's schools and libraries — connecting 20 million more students to next-generation broadband and wireless. Private-sector companies have also committed more than $2 billion to deliver cutting-edge technologies to classrooms. The Administration is using technology to break down geographic barriers and address rural isolation in education.
Local Food, Local Places
Recognizing the role local food systems can play in regional economic development, the Administration launched Local Food, Local Places in June, 2014. This effort, a partnership between the US Department of Agriculture, the US Department of Transportation, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Appalachian Regional Commission and the Delta Regional Commission, provides direct technical assistance to twenty communities integrating local food production into their civic planning process.
Small Business Administration Investing in Rural Small Businesses
The Administration extended more than $400 million in FY 2011 of investments in rural America through the Small Business Investment Company (SBIC) Impact Investment Program, at no cost to taxpayers. Nearly $2 billion in additional funding will be invested by the end of fiscal year 2016. These investments will continue to help finance, grow, expand, and modernize rural small business operations around the country.
Promoting a Bioeconomy through BioPreferred
To support the Administration's "Blueprint for a Bioeconomy," the President is utilizing the purchasing power of the Federal government by directing Federal agencies to take additional steps to significantly increase the purchase of biobased products over the next two years, which will create thousands of new rural jobs and drive innovation where biobased products are grown and manufactured. Utilizing the existing BioPreferred program, the Federal government will use its procurement power to increase the purchasing and use of biobased products, promoting rural economic development, creating new jobs, and providing new markets for farm commodities. Biobased products include items like paints, soaps and detergents and are developed from plants, rather than chemicals or petroleum bases. The biobased products sector marries the two most important economic engines for rural America: agriculture and manufacturing.
Rural Jobs Accelerator
The "Rural Jobs Accelerator" links Federal programs to facilitate job creation and economic development in rural communities by utilizing regional development strategies. The "Rural Jobs Accelerator" allows multiple agencies to coordinate technical assistance and grant/loan programs so that a consortium of public and private rural entities can have a single access point within the Federal government, creating improved access, streamlining of programs, and better leveraging of resources. USDA, EDA, Delta Regional Authority, and Appalachian Regional Commission have leveraged approximately $9 million in funding, with additional technical support from various Federal agencies including Department of Housing and Urban Development, and the Department of Education.
Commercial Aviation Biofuels Partnership
The Navy, the Department of Energy, and USDA have joined forces to spur the creation of an advanced biofuels industry that will support commercial aviation, with a pledge of $510 million, over three years, under the Defense Production Act of 1950.
Unprecedented Investments in Rural America
U.S. Department of Agriculture
The White House Rural Council is chaired by Secretary Vilsack, who in his role as Secretary of the Department of Agriculture has made unprecedented state-by-state investments in rural America. The U.S. Department of Agriculture works with thousands of farmers, ranchers and others living in rural communities every day and knows that there is no limit to the economic potential of rural America. Over the past five years, USDA has made significant investments to support those in rural America who drive the rural economy forward, carry out record conservation efforts, facilitate groundbreaking research, promote new markets for rural products, and provide a safe, affordable and nutritious food supply for American families. Secretary Vilsack invites the private sector to continue building innovative partnerships that drive investments, economic growth, and prosperity.
Presidential Nominations Sent to the Senate
NOMINATIONS SENT TO THE SENATE:
Jeffrey Martin Baran, of Virginia, to be a Member of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission for the remainder of the term expiring June 30, 2015, vice William D. Magwood, IV, resigning.
Stephen G. Burns, of Maryland, to be a Member of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission for the term of five years expiring June 30, 2019, vice George Apostolakis, term expired.
Remarks by the President at DCCC Luncheon -- CA
Los Altos Hills, California
12:00 P.M. PDT
THE PRESIDENT: Hello, everybody. (Applause.) Oh, no need to stand again. Sit down. Thank you so much. (Applause.)
Well, there are two reasons I’m here. Number one, it’s really nice. (Laughter.) The weather is good. It’s pretty -- it’s gorgeous. The second reason is George and Judy’s granddaughter and me, we’ve just got a connection. (Laughter.) She is adorable. There she is. (Laughter and applause.) Look how happy she is to be with the President. (Laughter and applause.) I may take her with me. (Laughter.) She is gorgeous.
A couple of people I want to thank. Obviously, George and Judy, we want to thank them not only for their incredible hospitality, but for the amazing support that they provided to so many important causes through the years. It’s wonderful to see somebody who has really lived out the American Dream, remembers it, and wants to give back. And so please give them a big round of applause. (Applause.)
One of my favorite people, even if I did not entirely depend on her for all kinds of stuff -- she is somebody who combines grace and intelligence and toughness with deep and abiding compassion. And she has just been a remarkable partner to me throughout my presidency, and George is exactly right, I need her back as Speaker of the House -- Nancy Pelosi. (Applause.)
Nancy could not do what she does unless she has good partners in Congress. And one of the best partners she could ever hope for is your own Congresswoman, who not only represents this district but is a leader on issues across the board and has been a great friend -- Anna Eshoo. Thank you for all the work, Anna, on this. (Applause.)
And then we’ve got a couple of candidates who are here. Michael Eggman is here. Where is Michael? There he is. (Applause.) And Amanda Renteria -- there she is -- Renteria. (Applause.) Two outstanding candidates and part of what it is that we’re just trying to build here and across the country.
I’ve got so many friends, so many people who have supported me for so long. As I look back, I realize how many of you have pictures of me with no gray hair. (Laughter.) You’re chronicling the slow deterioration of Barack Obama. But as a consequence, one of my main functions here today is just to say thank you because you guys have been incredibly supportive in everything that we’ve done at every stage. Many of you supported me back when I was running for the U.S. Senate, when nobody could pronounce my name, and then helped to mobilize an amazing movement back in 2008, and it continued until today.
So because I know so many of you so well, I’m not going to speak long at the top. What I want to do is spend most of the time in a conversation with you. Let me just make a couple of observations.
Number one, as George alluded to, when we came into office we were going through the worst economy since the Great Depression. In fact, the contraction was actually larger by some measures than the Great Depression. In part because of the incredible resilience of the American people, but in part because we actually put some smart policies in place, the record over the last five years is some pretty remarkable progress.
There’s almost no economic measure by which we are not better off today than we were when I came into office -- that 52 straight months of job growth; 10 million jobs created; this past year, the biggest drop in unemployment in 30 years. Unemployment now is lower than it was before Lehman’s. We’ve seen the deficit cut by more than half. Millions of people have health care that didn’t have it before and health care inflation is the lowest that it’s been in 50 years. The stock market, obviously, has more than recovered and that’s important for Wall Street but, more importantly, it’s important for Main Street. People whose 401(k)s had collapsed have built up some sense of retirement security once again.
When I came into office, investors around the world thought that China was the top place to do business. Today they think that America is the top place to do business -- in part because of the fact that we’ve recovered faster than most industrialized nations and come further; in part because some of the energy policies that we’ve put in place means that for the first time in over 20 years we’re now producing more oil than we import. We doubled clean energy, tripled the amount of wind energy that we produce, increased by 10 times the amount of solar energy that we’re producing, and we have reduced carbon pollution by the largest factor of any industrialized nation. High school dropout rates have gone down; college attendance is up.
And when you put all this together -- manufacturing stronger than any time since the 1990s; an auto industry that was on the verge of collapse now fully recovered and stronger than ever and producing cars that not only people want to buy but also are slated to double fuel efficiency by the next decade -- it’s no wonder then that a lot of people outside of the United States would say we’ve got the best cards out there. There’s no country that wouldn’t gladly trade places with us in terms of our strategic position. And part of that is also because we continue to have a culture of innovation and dynamism that Silicon Valley represents better than anyplace else on Earth.
And yet, there’s a lot of anxiety out there. And there’s anxiety for a couple of reasons. Number one, for all the progress that we’ve made, there’s a 20, 30-year trend that has not changed, and that is that more and more, productivity, corporate profits, the benefits of innovation accrue to folks at the very top. And the middle class and folks striving to get into the middle class, they’re stuck. They feel like they’re treading water. They feel as if, no matter how hard they work, they can’t get ahead, and, more worrisome, they’re concerned that their kids are not going to be able to get ahead.
And the second concern people have is it feels as if Washington doesn’t work and doesn’t listen to people and isn’t paying attention to them. And those two things are related.
There are specific policies we could put in place that we know would make life easier for people out there who are working hard on behalf of their families and trying to do the right thing. We know that if we had a sensible policy of rebuilding our infrastructure -- our roads, our bridges, our ports, a smart grid -- that all of that would spur on growth, put people to work right away; we’d have lower unemployment, and we’d be setting the stage for economic growth for decades to come.
We know that if we invest in early childhood education, every dollar we put in we get $7 back in terms of kids doing better in school, less likely to drop out, less likely to end up in prison, less likely to be unemployed. We know that.
We know that 28 million people would be helped if we raise the minimum wage so that it’s comparable to what it was 20 years ago. We know that if we helped working families deal with issues like child care that that would be an enormous burden lifted off them. We know that if women who are in the workforce aren’t getting paid less than men for doing the same job, that’s not just good for the women, it’s good for entire families because, as Anna and Nancy often remind us, when women succeed, America succeeds. (Applause.) And by the way, as the child of a single mom, you don’t have to convince me on that.
So we know what works. This is not a technical problem. We have some big technical issues: What are the -- what’s the next big energy breakthrough that’s going to allow us to fully contain the dangers of climate change? How do we make sure that all the innovation and productivity that is taking place and generated in places like this translate into more jobs and not more layoffs?
There’s some big, technical, economic issues, scientific issues that we have to address. But if we just took some common-sense steps, this country would grow faster, more people would be working, more families would be better off.
And the reason we don’t do it is because politics doesn’t work in Washington. And the reason politics does not work in Washington -- I want to be clear -- is not because both parties are in the tank. It’s not because everybody who goes to Congress is solely self-interested. The reason it doesn’t work right now is because we have one party that has no agenda other than making government not work; whose primary function, primary purpose right now, if you distill their ideology, comes down to saying no to any efforts to help ordinary families get ahead. Some of it is ideologically-driven. Some of it is driven by pure political calculation -- because what they know is if government is not working, people get cynical; and if people get cynical they do not vote; and if people do not vote that advantages them.
And so I hope the reason that you’re here today is because you want to get something done. And in order to get something done, we have to reverse that cycle. We have to break this cycle of gridlock and cynicism. And there’s a real simply way to do it: It’s making sure that people who are serious about governing are in power.
And I say that not as a strict partisan. Yes, I am a Democrat and I’m a proud Democrat. But my favorite President is the first Republican President from my home state of Illinois, a guy name Abraham Lincoln. And there has been throughout our history contributions by both parties to advance the common good. I’d love nothing more than a loyal and rational opposition. But that’s not what we have right now, and as a consequence we’re going to need change. And to bring about change, we’re going to need you.
So I’ll just close by saying that Democrats have a lot of good qualities. We do have a congenital defect, and that is we do not vote during midterm elections. But I need everybody here to have as great a sense of urgency about these midterms as you had about my election in 2008, or my election in 2012. Because as much as I can do as President of the United States, I cannot do it alone. I need partners. I need help. And that help comes in the form of having Nancy Pelosi as Speaker, and having Anna as somebody who’s in the majority. So I hope all of you get to work.
With that, let me take some questions. (Applause.)
12:13 P.M. PDT
Readout of the President's Call with Indonesian President-Elect Widodo
Yesterday evening President Obama called Jakarta Governor Joko Widodo to offer the American people's congratulations on his election as the next President of the Republic of Indonesia. The President noted that through this free and fair election, the people of Indonesia have once again shown their commitment to democracy.
The President reaffirmed that the United States deeply values the close and cooperative relationship with Indonesia, including the U.S.-Indonesia Comprehensive Partnership, which has strengthened our bilateral ties and facilitated deeper cooperation on common regional and global challenges.
President Obama told President-elect Widodo that he looks forward to meeting him at the earliest opportunity and to working with him to deepen the U.S.-Indonesia partnership, expand ties between our two peoples, and promote our shared objectives in Asia and around the world.