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Gov. Whitmer, Sec. Vilsack Announce Expansion of Rural Readiness Program to Win Projects, Build Infrastructure, Create Jobs in Rural Michigan

Michigan Business Network
June 4, 2024 3:00 PM

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Program will build capacity in rural communities, helping them land federal investments, projects  

Washington, DC. — Today, Governor Gretchen Whitmer and U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack announced an expansion of Michigan’s Rural Readiness Program which provides resources to rural communities, helping them apply for federal funding to improve housing, energy, roads, economic development and so much more. The Rural Readiness Program provides capacity building resources including funding, training, and technical support that enable communities to advance their priorities.    

“The Rural Readiness program will help rural communities across Michigan get ready to apply for and win federal investments to build housing, fix roads, create jobs, and so much more,” said Governor Whitmer. “By helping communities improve their capacity to compete for the grants and resources they need, we can keep delivering on the fundamentals that every family, small business, and small town needs to thrive. Since I took office, we have supported our rural communities with historic investments in all kinds of infrastructure, economic development, and education. I am grateful to our partners in the Biden-Harris administration for continuing to find ways to get things done for rural communities not only in Michigan, but across America. Together, we’ll keep growing our economy and making progress on the issues that make a real difference in people’s lives.”   

"I applaud Governor Whitmer and the state of Michigan for setting up the Michigan Rural Readiness Network, which will help rural communities take steps toward increased economic prosperity," said U.S. Agriculture Secretary Vilsack. "Under the Biden-Harris Administration, USDA and its federal partners are making unprecedented investments in rural America while ensuring those investments are accessible to the communities that have been left behind in the past. We are proud to partner with states like Michigan to create stronger, more resilient cities and towns where rural Americans can find prosperity and success."   

One component of the Rural Readiness Program – Rural Readiness Grants – was launched in 2023 to offer eligible rural or remote communities up to $50,000 create plans and develop capacity building partnerships. These competitive, reimbursement grants support and invest in underserved areas and populations by providing funding for capacity building activities, development readiness initiatives, partnership and plan formation, and cross sector collaboration.   

Since the launch of the Rural Readiness Program, communities have been able to submit millions of dollars in grant applications, secure funds for key projects, and build internships, fellowships, and educational opportunities that will lead to long-term capacity for planning, grant writing, and project development in underserved rural areas.   

Rural Readiness Program Expansion   

Now, with support from a national rural partner, Resource Rural, Michigan is expanding the Rural Readiness program to offer direct, hands-on support and connections to help communities plan for grants and other community investments.   

“The newly launched MI Rural Readiness program builds on our commitment to advancing priorities and meeting the critical needs of Michigan’s rural communities,” said LEO Director Susan Corbin. “By connecting these communities to vital networks, resources and supports, we are laying the foundation for our state’s rural residents to thrive and participate in Michigan’s economy in meaningful and lasting ways.”   

"Under Governor Whitmer's leadership, Michigan has become a destination for our food and agriculture industry. We continue to see increases in economic opportunities, advancements to supply chains, and investments into critical infrastructure, especially within Michigan's rural communities," said MDARD Director Tim Boring. "This expansion of the Rural Readiness program will provide new opportunities for our rural communities to thrive while fostering sustainable and long-lasting progress for future generations. Investing in Rural Michigan is a win-win for all."    

The Michigan Rural Readiness Program builds on the experience and findings of the federal Rural Partners Network and includes:   

  • Rural Readiness Network that engages coalitions of community partners in opportunities to build capacity for grants and investment. The Network will provide regular connections to peers, resource partners and technical assistance providers, trainings, roundtables and communities of practice, and network convenings that will offer the tools and skills needed for rural action. 
  • Rural Readiness planning support and resources to develop project concepts, plans, and grant applications, including microgrants, community coaching, and resource and grant navigation. 
  • A proposed continuation of the Rural Readiness Grant Program that provides funding for building capacity, planning, and partnerships around key community priorities. 
  • Rural Leadership Program that offers leadership and governance programming for interested citizens, including emerging rural leaders and young people, to develop skills and knowledge around community governance, volunteerism, community discourse, land use, economic development, planning, grant writing, and partnerships and coalition-building.   

The Network will build readiness through peer connections, targeted training and technical assistance, and access to resources providers like state agencies and philanthropy. Communities and organizations that are active, engaged participants of the Network will be eligible to apply for additional assistance offered by the Regional Readiness and Grant Navigation components of the Rural Readiness Program.   

Learn more about the Rural Readiness Program by visiting here.   



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