About the Stronger Economies Together (SET) Program: In many counties--especially counties with smaller populations--finding ways to create, attract, and retain jobs is a challenging process. Pursuing economic development as a single rural county--in isolation from other nearby counties--is oftentimes unproductive. In today’s global marketplace, economic development improvements are more likely to be realized when rural and metro counties work together as a multi-county region to assess, design, and implement plans that build on their assets and comparative economic strengths. That is what the SET project is all about.
Purpose: The purpose of SET is to strengthen the capacity of communities/counties in rural America to work together to develop and implement an economic development blueprint for their multi-county region, one that strategically builds on the region’s current and emerging economic strengths. In short, SET is a High Quality regional economic development Plan (HQP) development process.
Sponsors: The Stronger Economies Together (SET) Program is sponsored by USDA Rural Development (USDA RD), in partnership with the nation’s four Regional Rural Development Centers, and their land-grant university colleagues. One of the land-grant institutions playing a key coordinating role is the Purdue University Center for Rural Development (PCRD).
Key Benefits of SET: Each selected region will receive a number of important benefits including:
· Valuable coaching on the core building blocks that will serve as the foundation for developing and launching your region’s HQP.
· In-depth data that are tailored to your region, information that helps delineate the critical drivers of your economy (including the presence or emergence of regional clusters).
· Tools that uncover local assets and resources that can be tapped to advance your region’s economic strategies and actions.
· Coaching and a limited amount of technical assistance (up to 40 hours over a period of one year after completion of the SET planning process) from Extension educators, USDA RD State staff, and the Regional Rural Development Centers to guide your regional team as you begin to implement your HQP.
· Opportunity to share information and gather ideas/insights from other regions across the nation involved in the SET program.
Applications: Applications are available here. (Please read the application materials carefully, as there are specific requirements which must be met, such as the number of counties and a rural requirement.) Applications are due electronically no later than August 7, 2015 to Dave Shideler at firstname.lastname@example.org. An announcement of participation is expected by the middle of September, 2015.
Questions? If you have questions about any aspects of the SET application or the training program, please contact:
USDA-RD State Office
Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service