Obama Administration dedicates $15 million to spur rural jobs

WASHINGTON — The Delta Regional Authority is participating in a $15 million competition to spur job creation in distressed rural communities.

“This announcement to support $15 million in investments is exactly what Delta families need,” said Delta Regional Authority federal co-chairman Christopher Masingill. “These common sense steps promote job growth in economic clusters and continues the White House’s commitment to growing and investing in the nation’s rural communities.”

The White House announced the multi-agency challenge Thursday as a way to support rural partnerships focused on industry clusters that can add jobs and develop a skilled workforce.

“The contest will help determine where there is the greatest potential to maximize regional industrial strengths, helping businesses in rural areas create more jobs and support an economy that is built to last,” said Commerce Secretary John Bryson.

The ‘Rural Jobs Accelerator’ will speed up job creation, new business start-ups and expansions by building regional economic systems in rural areas. Last year’s 20 challenge winners – both rural and urban public-private partnerships–generated millions in matching funds and their projects are expected to help create hundreds of new businesses and thousands of new jobs, according to the White House.

“I think Arkansas can absolutely be competitive,” Masingill said.

The state, he said, could look to renewable energy or tourism as opportunities to build strong job clusters in its distressed rural communities, he said.

More information about the program is available on the Delta Regional Authority website at www.dra.gov. The deadline for applications is May 9, 2012.