The White House announced Thursday a $10 billion plan to jumpstart economic development in rural areas in the U.S.
The U.S. Rural Infrastructure Opportunities Fund is a privately-backed investment fund that will support new hospitals, schools, rural water and wastewater systems, energy projects and broadband expansion in rural regions.
CoBank, a Denver-based cooperative bank that serves agricultural businesses in all 50 states, provided the initial $10 billion investment in the fund. Additional funds from institutional investors will be accepted, and the fund will be managed by Capital Peak Asset Management.
"This fund represents a new approach to our support for job-creating projects across the country," Tom Vilsack, U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary and Chair of the White House Rural Council, said. "USDA and other agencies invest in infrastructure through a variety of federal initiatives, but our resources are finite and there are backlogs of projects in many parts of the economy. We know where investment opportunities exist, so we are in a position to help promote these projects among investors.”
Vilsack added that public-private partnerships like these will help grow the economy and improve quality of life for millions of American citizens.
The private investments by CoBank and other investors may fund some projects entirely, according to the White House. Some projects, however, may be funded in part by government loans and grants.
“The continued success of the U.S. rural economy and the improvement of rural communities depend on the strength of our infrastructure,” Robert Engel, CEO of CoBank, said. “To remain competitive, we must develop innovative financing strategies that will ensure infrastructure investment keeps pace with the needs of agriculture and other key rural industries. We strongly believe this public-private partnership will facilitate the flow of capital to deserving projects and promote the health of rural America.”