Betsy Dirksen Londrigan: Rural development is just beginning | Columnists

As President Biden delivered the State of the Union address, millions of Americans in our country heard our own thoughts and dreams for our country echoing.

Build it in America. Grow it in America. Buy it in America.

Across Illinois, USDA Rural Development puts your tax dollars back into the rural communities that drive our state. We are making historic investments to rebuild water and waste treatment systems, install high-speed broadband, modernize the electricity grid and integrate renewable energy sources. We are working with businesses – old and new – to stabilize against the impacts of COVID and support job growth. Hospitals are taking advantage of our grant programs to expand telehealth opportunities and make life-saving technology improvements.

These expensive items are life-changing, and rural development is just beginning. President Biden is asking us to dig deeper and do more to help rural communities build a better future. We reach out to small towns across the state, meet with community members, and ask this question, “What does your community need to thrive and how can we support you?” From labor centers to small business incubators, from steel mills to flour mills, from cafes to wineries, rural development is there to help small towns amplify their strengths and cultivate new opportunities.

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Illinois continues to be blessed with rich, dark soil that produces agricultural products in abundance envied around the world. We want it to stay that way. Rural Development offers grant and loan programs to help farmers protect their land from the effects of climate change and offset the costs of climate-smart improvements. Agri-food industries from this same land are diverse, lucrative and too often located in large cities. The Biden-Harris administration is working to help rural communities position themselves to keep more of those dollars and the jobs generated where they belong at home.

Last week, the president laid out a vision for the United States to “help grow the economy from the bottom up and in the middle.” This vision goes to the very heart of equal economic opportunity for all Americans. Small towns across the country form the backbone of our great nation, and Rural Development is ready to work for you. Visit us at rd.usda.gov/il.

Together, we can build and grow a better, stronger future for all of us right here in Illinois.

Betsy Dirksen Londrigan is the Illinois State Director of Rural Development at USDA Rural Development.

About Keneth T. Graves

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