The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced on February 11, 2019 – in coordination with NACo, Rural Community Assistance Partnership, McClure Engineering Company, and Purdue University Extension/Community & Economic Development Initiative of Kentucky – that they will begin accepting applications from rural communities seeking technical assistance through the Rural Economic Development Innovation (REDI) initiative. REDI is a new partnership initiative developed through the USDA’s Rural Development Innovation Center to help build capacity in rural communities and create foundations for rural prosperity.
Chosen applicants will receive free technical assistance to develop and implement rural economic development plans and projects. In order to participate in REDI, county and regional leaders are asked to form teams and apply. NACo is excited to partner on the REDI initiative to enhance rural vitality and build stronger rural economies by continuing to provide educational and interactive tools, trainings and other resources to our nation’s rural counties. NACo will work directly with the National Association of Regional Councils (NARC) on this new initiative to develop an interactive, team-based peer-learning program that will:
- Educate and inspire county and regional leaders to think creatively and regionally about new strategies and solutions;
- Facilitate multijurisdictional collaboration and partnerships among neighboring counties; and
- Empower counties to develop and implement economic and community strategies with a focus on economic diversification, workforce development, asset-based development and technology and e-connectivity.
This program and peer network will include hands-on, interactive training workshops, team mentoring, educational webinars and other interactive learning opportunities. County and regional best practice case studies will also be developed to help other rural communities in America replicate strategies that make sense for them.
This partnership underscores the importance for rural counties to leverage regional assets as a foundation for substantive and sustainable economic growth. To help promote regional economic development, NACo has championed a major provision within the past two farm bills which incentivizes regional economic development plans. The Strategic Economic and Community Development (SECD) Program allows rural counties to increase the likelihood of funding projects that are components of a multi-jurisdictional economic development plan. For more information on the SECD Program and other rural development priorities, click here.
Rural communities with 50,000 or fewer people are eligible to apply. Applications will be scored, reviewed and selected on a competitive basis.
The application deadline is April 5, 2019.
Interested counties can learn more about this initiative and opportunity by viewing a recorded webinar here.