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President Obama Renews Charge to Help Rural Companies and Communities Compete Globally

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Yesterday, President Obama announced new commitments in the “Made in Rural America” export and investment initiative, which is charged with bringing together federal trade-related resources for rural communities and businesses. This announcement reflects the Administration’s strategy for ensuring workers and businesses of all sizes, from communities large and small, benefit from the nation’s economic resurgence. 

The Department of Commerce also released data yesterday that show 26 states set new export records in 2014, and many of those states are in the nation’s heartland.

The Administration’s next steps in the “Made in Rural America” initiative build on input received from rural businesses and communities throughout the past year.  Following the President’s announcement of the initiative in February 2014, agencies led several regional forums across the country, a Rural Opportunity Investment conference last summer, and new partnerships to help more rural businesses – making everything from amphibious vehicles to aquaculture products – plug in to export assistance.    

Last year, we confirmed that rural businesses have the products and services in demand worldwide, and the drive to export – just like urban businesses. The challenge is improving their access to information and export services, including financing and logistics. U.S. Commercial Service – North Dakota Director Heather Ranck and rural companies spoke about that in this “Export Experts” video released last October.

Highlights from yesterday’s announcement include the following:

  • The International Trade Administration has established a new National Rural Export Innovation Team to help more rural businesses access export-related assistance, information and events. The team already has 74 members nationwide.
  • Through the support of the Appalachian Regional Commission, Delta Regional Authority and others, we will double the number of rural businesses served by these partners that international trade shows and missions.
  • The Economic Development Administration (EDA) will launch a new i6 Rural Challenge, based on the previously successful i6 challenges, which will focus on providing funding to rural communities to build capacity for commercializing technology.
  • EDA will establish a mentor-protégé program for rural communities that will help all communities involved learn how to leverage their own assets, build their resources, and foster a culture that drives innovation and entrepreneurial thinking.
  • Agencies will work with state and local partners to raise awareness of federal resources with rural businesses and community lending institutions.  This includes commitments from the Ex-Im Bank, SBA and the Delta Regional authority as well as the U.S. Postal Service’s commitment to host internationally-focused “Grow Your Business” day-long events across the country.
  • The Department of Agriculture and its partners will lead reverse trade missions and ITA will conduct outreach events for rural businesses to meet foreign buyers and commercial experts.

Many at the county, state, and national level responded to the President’s “Made in Rural America” charge, as we saw first-hand in Canonsburg, PA; Memphis, TN; Cortland, NY; Tuscaloosa, AL; Cedar Rapids; Gila County, AZ and Clackamas County, OR. In addition, the Administration has made efforts like Made in Rural America a key priority in our national export strategy, NEI/NEXT

For more information, visit businessusa.gov/rural-exporting.

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