Obama Unveils New Initiatives to Spur Job Growth in Rural Areas

Aug 16, 2011 12:01am

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ABC News’ Devin Dwyer (@devindwyer) reports:   

At the White House Rural Economic Forum in Peosta, Iowa, Tuesday, President Obama will announce four new economic initiatives that the administration says will spur growth and help create jobs.  

• The Small Business Administration will double the amount of investment capital funneled to rural businesses through its Small Business Investment Company program. The total capital infusion will be $350 million over the next five years, officials say. 

• The administration will sponsor and host “conferences” to help connect private equity and venture capital investors with rural start-ups. And, they’ll use “marketing teams” to go out and pitch federal grant money to private investors. 

• USDA will provide access to Labor Department job search tools at its 2,800 field offices nationwide. 

• HHS will modify the National Health Service Corps loan repayment program to allow more than 1,300 small, rural hospitals to recruit new physicians. (The White House estimates that the addition of one new primary care physician in a rural community generates $1.5 million in annual revenue and creates 23 jobs annually.) 

Officials say all of the initiatives, which come at no additional cost to tax payers, will create a “pretty significant” number of jobs, but they declined to specify an estimate for how many. 

“Half of the people who work in America either own or work for a small business, and two out of every three private sector jobs are created by small business,” said SBA administrator Karen Mills. “This is intensely true in rural areas. Small businesses of all kinds are thriving in rural areas.” 

Mills said the additional capital funding leveraged through the agency’s programs will target “hard-hit, underserved” areas and that all small businesses will be eligible. 

“You’re going to get a pretty good bang for the taxpayer buck,” Mills said. “Do not be fooled by the numbers. What you’re going to have is a lot of money that goes a very long way, that multiplies in these funds.”

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack added his optimism for increased job creation through the new initiatives. 

“There is nothing small bore about this effort that the president has instituted and started in rural America,” Vilsack said when asked to quantify their projected impact.  “I would be willing to say these announcements alone… you’re looking at a number that’s pretty significant.”    

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