For over a year, Aspen CSG has been leading work with Reimagining Rural Assistance Network (RRAN). RRAN is a focused, nimble, diverse coalition of rural development advocates, experts, and practitioners that came together in March 2021 in response to the significant expansion of federal funding.
Our initial objective was to put forward effective, consistent, and coordinated policy advocacy centered on the principles of increasing equity and accessibility for rural communities. We are working to ensure the federal resources proposed and implemented through the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), the bipartisan infrastructure bill, and the Build Back Better Act would successfully accelerate equitable rural development.
This work led to the creation of the Federal Resources page on Aspen CSG’s website that provides timely updates on federal resources and stakeholder input opportunities. We also launched the Rural Partnership Program page with key information on this historic capacity-building funding proposal.
While we work to support the Rural Partnership Program (as part of a smaller, negotiated Build Back Better or part of the 2023 Farm Bill), we are also engaged in the potential reauthorization of the Economic Development Administration (EDA).
EDA is a vital federal partner to improve prosperity and resilience in US communities experiencing economic distress, including those in rural areas. Congress’ significant investments in the agency during the COVID-19 pandemic have underscored the importance of EDA’s role in community economic development. However, many rural communities have not been able to access EDA funding due to issues related to capacity, scoring criteria, or matching requirements.
CSG recently helped author and signed on to a letter with other RRAN members in support of EDA reauthorization. The letter makes several important reform proposals around measurement, metrics, and funding accessibility to better serve rural communities.