WASHINGTON- The Rural Community Assistance Partnership, Inc. (RCAP) applauds Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler’s introduction of the Expanding Rural Investment in Jobs and Infrastructure Act (HR 3242), which works to expand the number of rural community facilities accessing grants and loans through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Rural Community Facilities Program.
This program was developed to provide much need financial assistance, through grants and loans, to community facilities. When it was designed, towns and villages that had populations over 20,000 did not qualify for the program. Unused funding, reaching more than $500 million in fiscal year 2016, were allocated to other areas outside of the program. The Expanding Rural Investment in Jobs and Infrastructure will ensure that the financial assistance provided by the Rural Communities Facilities Program stays within its intended purpose, providing job training for rural Americans.
The new legislation will prioritize access to communities with populations less than 20,000, but will now allow towns with populations of 20,000-30,000 to be eligible for funding. Communities with populations of 20,000-30,000 will require that loans and grants be used specifically for job training, healthcare, and public safety services. With the expanded population requirement, more rural Americans will have access to technical skills in medical training, and educational, agricultural, and mechanical certifications. In turn, those participants will be able to contribute to building quality infrastructure in rural communities.
The legislation also maintains key funding priorities of the program, which include rural communities with a population of 5,500 or less and low-income communities having a median household income below 80% of the state nonmetropolitan median household income.
“This legislation will continue to prioritize vital job training opportunities in rural communities across the United States. RCAP thanks Congresswoman Hartzler for introducing this important bill for rural communities and families and stands in support of all programs designed to help create opportunity in rural America” says Nathan Ohle, Executive Director of RCAP. “Job training is vital to creating opportunities for businesses and families to thrive, and will help lead to good paying jobs that support economic growth in communities that need it most.”
About the Rural Community Assistance Partnership
The Rural Community Assistance Partnership (RCAP) is a national network of six regional RCAPs (the Midwest Assistance Program, Rural Community Assistance Corporation, RCAP Solutions, WSOS Community Action Commission, Southeast RCAP, and Communities Unlimited) working to ensure that rural and small communities through the United States have access to safe drinking water and sanitary wastewater disposal. The Partnership provides a variety of programs to accomplish this goal, such as direct training and technical assistance. For more information, visit www.rcap.org or follow us on Facebook and Twitter.