CHARLES CITY, Iowa – July 26, 2011 – USDA Rural Utilities Service Administrator Jonathan Adelstein met with businesses leaders from north central Iowa today to discuss ways local communities and businesses can collaborate with state and federal agencies to help improve economic conditions and create jobs. The meeting today was part of a series of roundtables that are being held across the country this summer with senior Administration officials on behalf of the White House Business Council and White House Rural Council. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack is the chair of the White House Rural Council.
"Today's roundtable was a tremendous opportunity for me to learn about the challenges local businesses owners are facing and what type of opportunities they see ahead," said Adelstein. "It was clear that creating new job opportunities is extremely important for rural Iowans. The federal government, through its various programs, is committed to helping improve economic opportunities in rural America."
In the last 10 years 66 of Iowa's 99 counties saw a population decline, with counties in north central Iowa facing some of the largest population losses of any area of the state. Floyd County, which includes Charles City, recorded a 3.5 percent population loss in the 2010 Census compared to 2000 figures. Of the eight counties surrounding Floyd County only one has managed to gain population since 2000.
White House Business Council members plan to host roundtables in at least 100 communities across the country by year-end. The purpose of these roundtables is to listen to local businesses and get feedback on how the Administration can best support their growth. It is also to make sure that local business leaders are taking advantage of the Administration resources and programs designed to help them create jobs and compete.
The meetings give an opportunity for government leaders to hear directly from business leaders around the country about their ideas on how to grow the economy. This exchange also is intended to educate business and community leaders about USDA programs and other the resources within the federal government to help them compete and expand.
In June, President Obama signed an Executive Order establishing the first White House Rural Council, chaired by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. The White House Rural Council will work throughout government to create policies to promote economic prosperity and a high quality of life in our rural communities.
Since taking office, President Obama's Administration has taken significant steps to improve the lives of rural Americans and has provided broad support for rural communities. The Obama Administration has set goals of modernizing infrastructure by providing broadband access to 10 million Americans, expanding educational opportunities for students in rural areas, and providing affordable health care. In the long term, these unparalleled rural investments will help ensure that America's rural communities are repopulating, self-sustaining and thriving economically.
USDA, through its Rural Development mission area, administers and manages housing, business and community infrastructure and facility programs through a national network of state and local offices. Rural Development has an existing portfolio of more than $150 billion in loans and loan guarantees. These programs are designed to improve the economic stability of rural communities, businesses, residents, farmers and ranchers and improve the quality of life in rural America.