Federal technical assistance in regional economic efforts available for rural Utah regions

Salt Lake City, UT – Applications are being sought from rural communities and entities across Utah who wish to participate in a federal program in regional economic development.Under a cooperative agreement between the United States Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development agency and four Regional Rural Development Centers, multi-jurisdictional regions will compete to participate in training and technical assistance to develop a regional economic development strategy. Utah is one of the twelve states across the nation selected for phase II of the program.Applications submitted by Utah regions will be reviewed and scored by the State Partnership Team, their selections will be forwarded to the national team for the final decision, and from there the top two rated applications from each of the twelve states will be awarded. Each selected area will receive training on regional development and be given background data and analysis specific to the region.According to Chuck Gay, Associate Vice President for Cooperative Extension at Utah State University, “The local region, in the end, will have the analysis and expertise at its fingertips to enable it to make informed plans for increasing regional prosperity.”The Stronger Economies Together (SET) program is designed to help interested counties to work together to develop and implement a regional economic development strategy or plan. Training will involve active participation by the trainees and span a multi-week period. Training and technical assistance will be done by an outside team, consisting of representatives of USDA Rural Development, Cooperative Extension Service, and other state partnership members including the Governor’s Rural Partnership Board, and the Governor’s office of Economic Development. “This is free help for hard-hit rural areas who could benefit from a regional approach to economic growth,” said Utah State Director for Rural Development Dave Conine. “Communities that work together to solve common economic development issues are more successful and sustainable. We believe this collaborative opportunity will help selected rural communities develop strategies to meet the economic challenges facing our state and our country.”For an application or additional information: Log on to http://wrdc.usu.edu/htm/programs; call or email Marion Bentley, USU Extension at 435-797-2284, marion.bentley@usu.edu.Application deadline is May 13, 2011. Send applications to: Stronger Economies Together, USDA Rural Development, Attn: Dave Conine, 125 S State Street, Room 4311, Salt Lake City, UT 84138. Applications must be received by close of business on May 13th 2011. A teleconference to answer questions from applicants is scheduled for Wednesday, April 27th, at 11:00 a.m. MST. The call-in number is 1-888-560-7995. Call 435-835-4111 x107 or email donna.birk@ut.usda.gov for entry code information.

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