The White House Rural Council released the report Jobs and Economic Security in Rural America which highlighted the fact that many rural communities “have lower incomes, higher poverty rates, worse health outcomes, and lower educational attainment than urban and suburban areas.” Highlighted was the expansion of broadband access to over “7 million rural Americans, including 3 million rural households and over 350,000 rural businesses” in the August 2011 report.
To combat the negative factors presented, the Council presented its findings and made specific suggestions on ways to address these issues.
Also, in a letter included in the report, US Department of Agriculture Secretary Thomas Vilsack noted that the report listed “vital strategies that can and will be used to seize those opportunities and tackle some of the toughest challenges facing our rural communities.”
Finally, it included a summary of some administration accomplishments already made that would enhance opportunities for rural Americans:
- Through the USDA’s Distance Learning and Telemedicine Program, more than 2,500 healthcare and educational facilities have received access to distance learning and telemedicine services.
- Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has invested $4.5 million to support 17 Telehealth Network grantees, which provided over 17,000 teleconsultations to patients in isolated areas across 207 locations.
- As a result of USDA’s Broadband Initiative Program under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), 2.8 million households will have new or improved broadband services, reaching nearly 7 million people and 364,000 businesses across more than 300,000 square miles.
- The U.S. Chief Technology Officer launched the “Text 4 Baby” program to use mobile technologies to provide healthcare information to expecting and new parents. The service now has more than 135,000 subscribers.
- The SBA / SCORE Broadband Initiative helps small businesses accelerate growth through the use of broadband technologies, many of which are in rural communities. To date, its online resources have been leveraged by over 11,000 small businesses.
The entire report can be accessed on the White House’s website.