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ARC is Regional Funding Partner in $15 Million Rural Jobs and Innovation Accelerator Challenge

March 2012


WASHINGTON, March 9, 2012—The Obama administration has announced the $15 million multi-agency Rural Jobs and Innovation Accelerator Challenge to spur job creation and economic growth in economically distressed rural communities. Funded by the U.S. Department of Commerce's Economic Development Administration (EDA), the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC), and the Delta Regional Authority, the competition was designed by the Taskforce for the Advancement of Regional Innovation Clusters and the White House Rural Council.

President Barack Obama recently announced the challenge as part of the administration's "We Can't Wait" efforts to strengthen the economy, create jobs, and support business growth, expanding opportunity for rural Americans in particularl and supporting new and innovative businesses nationwide.

The national effort will support rural partnerships by identifying and leveraging local assets and strengthening linkages to industry clusters. Strong industry clusters promote robust economic ecosystems and the development of a skilled workforce, both of which are critical to long-term regional success 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.

"We know that when rural America is growing, America as a whole is getting strong, and bringing everyone to the table creates more innovation and more jobs," said U.S. Department of Commerce Secretary John Bryson. "This Rural Jobs Accelerator challenge aligns federal efforts and resources to build on the historic investments that have been made in rural America over the past three years. 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."

"The Rural Jobs Accelerator will speed up job creation, new business startups, and expansions by building regional economic systems in rural areas," said U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. "USDA and our partners will work together to increase the power of local businesses, tribes, and officials to implement economic development strategies specially targeted to their regions."

The Rural Jobs and Innovation Accelerator Challenge is expected to give out approximately 20 awards, depending on the number of eligible applications. To be eligible for an award, projects must benefit rural communities, but the applicant is not required to be located in a rural area. Nonprofits, higher education institutions, tribes, and state and local governments can collaborate to apply for funding. Although businesses are not eligible to apply directly, applicants can partner with the private sector on implementation.

"ARC's partnering with USDA, EDA, and other agencies creates opportunities for Appalachian communities to better leverage resources, take advantage of economic opportunities, and lay the groundwork for further economic growth. We believe proposals like the Jobs Accelerator will help strengthen the Appalachian Region's entrepreneurial ecosystem," said ARC Federal Co-Chair Earl F. Gohl.

The deadline for application submission is May 9, 2012. For more information on the Accelerator challenge, visit