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Gillibrand promotes Rebuild Rural America Act in CNY

U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand promotes the Rebuild Rural America Act with local leaders Aug. 8 in Ilion, NY.
U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand
U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand promotes the Rebuild Rural America Act with local leaders Aug. 8 in Ilion, NY.

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) is pushing a bill that would invest $50 billion in rural economic development, infrastructure, schools, hospitals, and small businesses.

Gillibrand promoted the Rebuild Rural America Act with local leaders this week in Ilion and Lowville. She said the bill would help to fill the gaps in the federal government’s lack of support for rural communities.

“New York’s rural communities face a variety of unique challenges, but too often, the federal government has failed to adequately support them,” Gillibrand. “My Rebuild Rural America Act will invest $50 billion into rural America to help communities build schools, expand child care access, catalyze private investment, train workers for in-demand jobs, and bolster critical infrastructure.”

The act would establish a Rural Future Partnership Fund with a $50 billion block grant program intended to support long-term rural development projects. The fund would provide grantees with a guaranteed five years of funding for projects on anything from child care centers, public schools, libraries, community centers, water and sewer facilities and more. With longer-term investments, local governments would have more administrative freedom than before.

Herkimer County Administrator Jim Wallace said the bill would help with a growing need for increased childcare and mental health services and facilities in Herkimer County.

“These efforts to put forth much needed federal resources for rural areas such as Herkimer County who are facing challenges such as childcare, mental health, and healthcare to name a few are much needed and very timely,” said Wallace.

The bill is also intended to make it easier for local governments to access federal funds by creating a USDA Rural Innovation and Partnership Administration. The administration would work with local leaders to provide information on available federal resources and how to create effective revitalization plans.

Cheyenne Steria, the director of finance and incentives at the Lewis County economic development office, Naturally Lewis said the bill directly aligns with the rural community’s values and goals.

“North Country businesses and North Country people, in general, are the best in the world at making every penny count. Likewise, Naturally Lewis’ mission is to leverage ‘big’ projects to have real tangible impact on the little guys,” said Steria. “We recognize that economic development is about more than the bottom line and building our community - through schools, hospitals, infrastructure and access to childcare is intrinsic to our mission and our future.”

Gillibrand said she is looking to pass the bill in this year’s Farm Bill. Companion legislation has been introduced by Minnesota Democrat Tina Smith and Illinois Democrat Dick Durbin.

Abigail is a temporary WRVO News Reporter/Producer working on regional and digital news stories. She graduated from SUNY Oswego in 2022 where she studied English and Public Relations. Abigail enjoys reading, writing, exploring CNY and spending time with family and friends. Abigail first joined the WRVO team as a student reporter in June 2022.