Correction: This featured story has been updated to accurately reflect the number of trips Buttigieg has taken in Iowa.
In an effort to win over rural voters, South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg on Tuesday released a sweeping plan to reinvigorate rural America, promising investments in rural entrepreneurship and investments in technology.
The plan follows a new healthcare proposal for rural America it released last week. Buttigieg Tuesday also does his ninth trip to Iowa since declaring his candidacy, which will include a stop at the Iowa State Fair.
Rural voters, Buttigieg writes in the new plan, have been harmed under the Trump administration “in a needless trade war that treats farmers like pawns and thinks they will be satisfied with a subsidy rather than their life’s work “.
Buttigieg’s plan for rural revitalization – much like his previous plans for minority outreach, rural work and health care – is tied to his record as mayor. He cited $ 850 million in investment in South Bend since taking office in 2012, but he has been criticized for his focus on downtown revitalization and has been accused of forgetting the low-income suburbs of the city, which have experienced difficulties in recent years.
“Just as my own hometown has risen to open a new chapter and approach the future with a new approach and new ideas, we can face this moment of urgency head-on to create opportunity for rural Americans if we let’s empower our communities rather than ignore them, ”writes Buttigieg. “This plan unlocks the potential of small towns across America with good jobs, an opportunity to build a business, and the infrastructure to raise healthy and happy families.”
In an effort to “revitalize the American rural economy and catalyze job creation,” Buttigieg wants to provide $ 500 million in federal funding to “regional innovation clusters,” allowing state and local governments to take the lead. initiative to develop economic projects based on the specific needs of individual rural communities through a grant program judged by a panel of entrepreneurs across the country.
Buttigieg is also pledging up to $ 5 billion to expand learning networks across the country in an effort to “ensure that a learning program in a growing industry is available within a 30 mile radius of every American, ”including underserved rural areas. Similar to his rural health care plan to attract immigrant physicians, Buttigieg is seeking to create “community renewal visas,” with the goal of attracting highly skilled immigrants with the promise of getting a green card at home. end of a three-year residency in rural areas. communities.
Buttigieg’s plan would double funding for antitrust law enforcement and lower the merger reporting threshold in a bid to improve oversight.
Additionally, the plan reiterates its call for a federal minimum hourly wage of $ 15 and paid family leave for rural workers.
The plan also aims to combat climate change. Rural communities, he writes, are the “frontiers of climate change” and can “become the engines of innovation to tackle climate change and economic growth” under a Buttigieg administration. He called for doubling the US Department of Agriculture’s $ 2.5 billion in research and development funding to provide solutions to climate change, with an additional investment of $ 50 billion over the next 10 years in agricultural technologies, food security and natural resources. Buttigieg calls for increased incentives for conservation, paying farmers to maximize land conservation and biodiversity in rural areas while reducing bureaucratic barriers to accessing these programs.
The plan calls for technological investments in the expansion of broadband in rural areas. In a nod to Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s investment in the National Highway Program, which has expanded rural transport access to underserved rural areas, Buttigieg’s plan calls for “Internet for all,” promising $ 80 billion. dollars in extended Internet services by the end of his first term. .
In addition to expanding broadband access and increasing funding for learning programs, Buttigieg’s plan aims to reduce the teacher shortage in rural areas by 50% by increasing salaries and instituting a student loan exemption for rural teachers. While many of his Democratic rivals have asked for free tuition, Buttigieg has instead called for grants for Americans in need. The plan details free tuition fees for low- and middle-income students, targeting rural areas “where students are more likely to be low-income and where the university is often more out of reach.”
Increased grant funding for satellite hubs within community college networks will notably allow rural students to access college education where they live, as will increased funding for historically black colleges and universities, tribal colleges and institutions serving minorities.