Stronger Economies Together program applications now accepted

AgriLife Extension, USDA partner on regional economic development initiative

Contact: Dr. Rebekka Dudensing, 979-845-1719, rmdudensing@tamu.edu

 COLLEGE STATION – Communities across Texas are invited to take advantage of a regional economic development initiative offered by the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service and the U.S. Department of Agriculture-Rural Development.

Stronger Economies Together, also known as SET, is a program that will help rural communities capitalize on the strengths of the region to create jobs, wealth and economic development, said Rebekka Dudensing, AgriLife Extension economist, College Station.

“SET provides facilitation and coaching for local community stakeholders to work together to develop a regional economic development plan,” said Dr. Jamie Rae Walker, AgriLife Extension specialist in College Station. “This community-based approach uses evidence-based  planning and goal-setting to empower local action.”

The Stronger Economies Together program began in 2010 in eight states. Due to its success, it is now available in 19 states. Since it began, nearly 40 multi-county regions have received technical assistance to accomplish their regional projects. Texas began participating in 2011 with two regions along the Texas Gulf Coast.

Applications from rural regions are currently being accepted.  Completed applications must be submitted electronically to rmdudensing@tamu.edu by Oct. 1. To qualify, the regional team must have members from a minimum of three counties and be predominantly rural as defined in the application.

To receive an application, contact Dudensing at rmdudensing@tamu.edu or on the web at http://communities.tamu.edu/stronger-economies-together-set/ or http://srdc.msstate.edu/set/phase4.html (scroll down to the Texas application). There is no application fee. However, selected applicants should be prepared to provide some minor local logistical support for workshop meetings.  Two regions will be selected in Texas and announced by Dec. 31.

Regional teams will receive the following:

- An understanding of the critical drivers of their region and the emerging growth sectors and regional competitive advantages.

- Help in developing innovative approaches to strengthening regional economic development.

- Technical assistance and educational support from USDA Rural Development staff and economic development specialists with AgriLife Extension.

- Opportunities to share information with SET program participants from other states.

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