Rebuild Rural America bill unveiling
Corning, NY (WENY) -- Former Presidential candidate and New York state Senator Kirsten Gillibrand was in Corning, unveiling a new piece of legislation, co-sponsored by Antonio Delgado of New York's 19th district. The topic was a new bill she's working on specifically to help rural communities like the crystal city.
One person put it like this, that the legislation wouldn't be a hand out but instead a leg up. It's called the Rebuild Rural America Act. It will provide a steady steam of funding to rural communities across the county, helping them to develop. Senator Gillibrand announced the new initiative in the heart of one of the states most rural counties, Steuben. The bill's aim is to prioritize federal funding for small towns.
"The reason we wrote this bill in a very broad based way is because it needs to be flexible so every community can meet their special needs." said Sen. Gillibrand.
The initiative would create a grant program, with funding in the $50 billion range courtesy of the U.S.D.A., With the various money being given based on population size. For instance instead of just a city filling out an application, the entire Southern Tier would submit an application. And for rural places it could mean millions of dollars.
"A program like this would lift communities. It would actually galvanize and create a template for replication.' said Judy McKinney Cherry, the executive director for the Southern Tier Regional Economic Development Council.
At Gillibrand's announcement she said the funds can be used in conjunction with state aid. It's similar to New York's Downtown Revitalization Initiative but on a federal level, opening the door to major development.
"It's complimentary and it would allow for greater money, $50 billion to be spent just in rural economic development around the country." said Gillibrand.
Rural communities can utilize the funding in a number of different ways including, planning for the future, main street revitalization and helping small businesses and entrepreneurs. But for those smaller communities the application process would be competitive. However once awarded, the winners will get a 5 year guaranteed renewal. The rebuild Rural America bill could ensuring small community's won't have to continually apply.
"I do think that this program will absolutely make a difference in small communities being able to access those moneys." said Mckinney Cherry.
Moving forward the hope is Gillibrand and Delgado will be able to reach across the aisle and get bi-partisan support.
"It's great to have a piece of legislation that's focused on rural America and rural communities like those that are in Steuben county." said Jamie Johnson, the executive director of the Steuben County IDA.
Fixing rural America is something that the Democrats and G.O.P. can both get behind. The next step in the process is working to get that bi-partisan support. Gillibrand says her and her co-sponsor, congressman Antonio Delgado are hoping to get the bill passed by the end of the year.