Jackson County is among 47 rural communities across the nation that will receive special technical assistance from USDA partners to help build long-term economic growth.

Jackson County will receive planning assistance from Purdue University and the University of Kentucky to support the development of high-speed connectivity and access to broadband. An allocation will be granted those entities to reimburse them for the costs they’ll incur in providing that help.

Acting Assistant to the Secretary for Rural Development Joel Baxley announced the recipients Thursday in a USDA press release.

“USDA and its partners are bringing local leaders and economic development experts together to create opportunity in some of the nation’s most economically challenged rural communities,” Baxley said. “Under the leadership of President Trump and Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, USDA is committed to building prosperity in America’s rural cities and towns.”

USDA is providing the assistance through an agency initiative called Rural Economic Development Innovation (REDI).

Each of the 47 communities and regions will be paired with partner organizations that will provide free technical assistance for up to two years to help rural towns and regions create and implement economic development plans. USDA awarded $1.2 million in cooperative agreements to these partners in September 2018. The agreements will help the partners finance the free technical assistance.

The following is a brief overview of the type of assistance the partners assigned to Jackson County will provide:

Purdue University Extension and Community and Economic Development Initiative of Kentucky (at University of Kentucky) will support Jackson County and seven other communities to build long-term economic development plans by leveraging public and private funding sources.

“In January 2018, Secretary Perdue presented the Task Force’s findings to President Trump. These findings included 31 recommendations to align the federal government with state, local and tribal governments to take advantage of opportunities that exist in rural America.”

The program supports recommendations identified in the Report to the President of the United States from the Task Force on Agriculture and Rural Prosperity.

USDA Rural Development provides loans and grants to help expand economic opportunities and create jobs in rural areas. This assistance supports infrastructure improvements; business development; housing; community facilities such as schools, public safety and health care; and high-speed internet access in rural areas. For more information, visit www.rd.usda.gov.

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