The Northeast Regional Center for Rural Development will focus on three key subject matter areas, which align with the priorities of NERA and NEED as well as USDA-NIFA: entrepreneurship and job creation; community, local and regional food systems; and land use and balanced use of natural resources. The national Stronger Economies Together (SET) initiative has been expanded to NY as well as NH/VT, where educators, faculty and federal RD staff are cooperating in delivering regional strategic programming to competitively-selected multi-county communities. This growing effort is part of the national initiative that has been funded by USDA/Rural Development, and it is one example of the Center's capacity to bring together a variety of public and private sector stake-holders in achieving critical objectives. The insights gained from this national effort are providing important lessons for future regional development strategy, and it is solidifying our network of key collaborators in the field. Lackluster employment growth continues to plague many rural communities. Further, recognition is growing that the federal government has essentially exhausted monetary and fiscal policy options at this time. This implies that entrepreneurship and self-employment may be one of the few -- if not only -- bright spots on the horizon, and we will invest heavily in understanding and documenting both the determinants of self-employment as well as the wider economic impacts within communities. We have also demonstrated that small local firms (i.e., independent entrepreneurs) are essentially the best if not only source of local economic growth, compared to big box stores. The fact that the NE Extension leadership (and USDA) is discussing the idea of networks within local food systems is strong evidence that the Center's work is having an impact in the region that will eventually filter down to educators within counties. Thus, in terms of shorter-term learning activities we expect to continue to see greater awareness among key stakeholders and decision-makers of the challenges and science-based solutions related to the forces and opportunities shaping the sustainability and profitability of agricultural and local food systems in the Northeast US. We also expect to see a better understanding and greater awareness emerge among decision-makers of the importance of self-employment and entrepreneurship within their communities; this also means reduced emphasis on industrial recruitment. The Center's recent work on the impact of small firms has attracted the attention of various media outlets and is being disseminated through these kinds of venues in addition to conventional pathways (conferences, webinars, etc.). We also expect, eventually, that there will be fewer false business starts; more knowledge regarding business potential; and greater interest in rural areas (including especially among youth) in self-employment and small business creation. Leaders within rural communities and colleague-stakeholders within the land grant system will have access to timely, science-based educational resources through our website and other vehicles (e.g., webinars).
|Effective start/end date||7/15/12 → 7/14/15|
- National Institute of Food and Agriculture: $237,444.00