USDA Rural Development Program to Help Regional Economic Efforts in Southeast Iowa

Written by Theresa Rose on August 14, 2015

Des Moines, Iowa, August 07, 2015 —

This week’s approval of USDA Rural Development program applications from Henry, Jefferson and Washington Counties and the Mississippi and Des Moines Rivers Confluence Regions will help to strengthen rural economic development efforts in southeast Iowa.

“USDA Rural Development’s Stronger Economies Together (SET) program helps establish a state resource team that will bring the talents and resources of key state and federal agencies, extension programs, and other organizations together to provide coaching and technical assistance to each of the regional teams,” said Bill Menner, USDA Rural Development State Director in Iowa. “Rural communities that work through regional and strategic partnerships can complement and draw upon the resources of another to create jobs and strengthen economies.”

USDA Rural Development launched the SET program in 2009 to strengthen the capacity of communities/counties in rural America to work together in developing and implementing an economic development blueprint that strategically builds on the current and emerging economic strengths of their region.

Henry, Jefferson and Washington Counties and the Mississippi and Des Moines Rivers Confluence Regions are Iowa’s first two SET recipients. A total of 19 other regional economic-development groups in 11 other states were also selected to participate in the program this week.

Leaders in Henry, Jefferson and Washington Counties plan to use the SET program to develop an extensive regional economic development plan to create new partnerships and opportunities for such communities as Fairfield, Mount Pleasant and Washington.

“We are excited to be part of the SET program because the three counties in our region, have a naturally-occurring economic relationship, in many ways, but lack a formal structure to guide our collective future through collaborative effort,” said Travis Kraus, Executive Vice President of the Mount Pleasant Area Chamber Alliance. “The primary factors influencing our interest are housing and workforce, and I see a lot of opportunity to enhance tourism efforts in the region.”

Participants in the Mississippi and Des Moines Rivers Confluence Regions (Lee County in Iowa, Clark County in Missouri and Hancock County in Illinois) will use the SET planning process to further drive the development and construction of river, rail and road infrastructure to increase the region’s competiveness on the world market.

The SET program includes such assistance as step-by-step coaching to guide the design and implementation of a practical and viable regional economic development plan, in-depth data tailored to the region that describes its current and emerging clusters, comparative economic advantages, detailed demographic and socio-economic information, as well as technical assistance. Staff with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach will play an important role in providing guidance to the Iowa SET recipients by providing assistance with leadership and community development, civic engagement, as well as long-term economic development planning.

USDA Rural Development’s funding continues to have a dramatic impact on rural communities across Iowa. Since 2009, USDA Rural Development has invested more than $3 billion on essential public facilities, small and emerging businesses, water and sewer systems, and housing opportunities for Iowa families.

USDA Rural Development can help rural communities and regions grow and prosper by offering a variety of financial and technical assistance programs that encourage the development of strong community and economic development strategies.

This past year USDA Rural Development’s investment in Iowa helped create or retain more than 1,000 jobs, aided 2,400 families in buying their own homes and assisted more than 50 communities as they made improvements to their facilities, services and infrastructure.

Contact USDA Rural Development

For more information about finance programs available through USDA Rural Development, please call (515) 284-4663 or visit the agency’s web site at www.rd.usda.gov/ia.

USDA Rural Development has 11 offices across the state to serve the 1.7 million Iowans living in rural communities and areas. Office locations include a State Office in Des Moines, along with Area Offices in Albia, Atlantic, Humboldt, Indianola, Iowa Falls, Le Mars, Mount Pleasant, Storm Lake, Tipton and Waverly.

USDA Rural Development is working with rural communities to create jobs, expand opportunity, encourage innovation and build a strong foundation for the future. The agency currently administers and manages more than 40 housing, business and community infrastructure and facility loan and grant programs designed to improve the economic stability of rural communities, businesses, residents and farmers and improve the quality of life in rural America.

President Obama’s plan for rural America has brought about historic investment and resulted in stronger rural communities. Under the President’s leadership, these investments in housing, community facilities, businesses and infrastructure have empowered rural America to continue leading the way – strengthening America’s economy, small towns and rural communities. USDA’s investments in rural communities support the rural way of life that stands as the backbone of our American values.