Catherine Cortez Masto Wants to Create a Council On Rural Innovation and Economic Development
Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV)wants to create a standing ‘Council on Rural Community Innovation and Economic Development’ to work across executive departments, agencies, and offices to streamline the work of agencies and programs specifically designed to support rural communities. She and Senator Rob Portman (R-OH) are asking Congress to make it happen. The lawmakers say the council will maximize the impact of federal investments across the different agencies in order to promote economic prosperity and quality of life in rural communities and encourage the use of innovative technologies that resolve local and regional challenges. More than 59 million people live in rural America, and nearly 9 million, or 18%, are living in poverty. This compares with 12% poor in the suburbs and 20% in central cities. The digital divide is also still present in the adoption of certain technologies as well. According to a Pew survey, adults in rural America are between seven and 12 percentage points less likely than urban and suburban dwellers to own and use a smartphone, desktop computer, laptop or tablet. If the lawmakers’ bipartisan bill passes, it would require a report on “Rural Smart Communities,” describing efforts of rural areas to integrate “smart” technology into their communities to solve local challenges relating to energy, transportation, health care, law enforcement and housing. The council would also, among other things, distribute a Smart Community Resource Guide, a compilation of existing federal and non-federal programs available to rural communities that could aid them in adopting smart community practices, strategies, and technologies. More here.