During these times of decreasing public resources, rural community colleges need to promote innovative, collaborative partnerships to advance economic development within their region, according to the deputy under secretary for rural development at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).
“There is so much untapped potential in rural America,” said USDA’s Doug O’Brien, who spoke at a session for rural community colleges at the American Association of Community Colleges’ (AACC) Workforce Development Institute earlier this month.
O’Brien encouraged rural college leaders to reach out to their local USDA rural development office and apply for federal funding, which can be used for college facilities, equipment, broadband expansion and distance learning programs.
He encouraged the audience to read a recently report released by the Rural Work Group at the international Organisation for Economic and Co-Operative Development that found economic growth in underdeveloped rural regions is actually faster than growth in urban areas. Promoting Growth in All Regions also found that economic development in rural areas is crucial to a nation’s economic health, and that investments in workforce training aimed at increasing the skills of people with the least education made the biggest difference. <Read more.>