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Rural development program to assist regional economic development

COLUMBIA, MO – Missouri Rural Development State Director Janie Dunning announced on Aug. 12 the designation of two Stronger Economies Together (SET) regions. The regions are Green Hills Heritage Highway (Green Hills) and Southeast Missouri Multi-County EDC (SEMO). A total of 19 other regional economic-development groups in 11 states were also selected to participate in the SET program.

“Rural communities recognize the vital importance of economic development for the benefit of residents. Understanding the difficulty of maintaining an adequate economic development program on their own, communities are joining forces to better use resources to grow businesses and create jobs,” said Ms. Dunning. “USDA Rural Development’s Stronger Economies Together (SET) program enhances regional economic development efforts by providing assistance in the creation of a high quality plan. The plan is produced in collaboration with local stakeholders and a state resource team made up individuals from state and federal agencies, university extension and other organizations who possess expertise and knowledge in community and economic development.”

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. This blueprint strategically builds on the current and emerging economic strengths of a region.

Green Hills and SEMO are the third and fourth SET regions to be designated in Missouri. Old Trails Regional Tourism Partnership (Carroll, Chariton, Cooper, Howard, Lafayette and Saline Counties) and Lake Ozark Regional Economic Development Council (Camden, Miller and Morgan Counties) were designated in the first phase of SET in 2010.

Leaders in Green Hills (Daviess, Grundy and Sullivan Counties) plan to use the SET program to identify, inventory and brand art, history and cultural offerings along the Heritage Highway. This will position businesses and communities along the route to capitalize on the emerging economy and opportunities expected with the completion of the Sullivan County Lake project.

SEMO (Iron, Madison, Ste. Genevieve and St. Francois Counties) sees SET as an opportunity to take the region’s economic development efforts to the next level. The outcome expected is to develop a stronger regional mindset, to increase regional participation, to more effectively use the region’s resources and to create an achievable vision for the region’s economy.

Staff with University of Missouri Extension will play an important role in providing guidance to the Missouri SET recipients. University of Missouri Extension staff will serve on the State Resource Team (SRT) and provide expertise, leadership and facilitation during the SET process.

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.

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. USDA Rural Development’s funding continues to have a dramatic impact on rural communities across Missouri. Since 2009, USDA Rural Development has invested more than $6.4 billion on essential public facilities, small and emerging businesses, water and sewer systems, and housing opportunities in Missouri’s communities.

For more information about USDA Rural Development programs, please call (573) 876-0976 or visit the agency’s web site at USDA Rural Development has 24 offices across the state to serve Missouri’s rural communities and regions.

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.

USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer. To file a complaint of discrimination, write: USDA, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, Office of Adjudication, 1400 Independence Ave., S.W., Washington, DC 20250-9410 or call 866-632-9992 (Toll-free Customer Service), 800-877-8339 (Local or Federal relay), 866-377-8642 (Relay voice users).

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