The PJ Tatler

Obama: 'Sustainable Product Procurement' Will Make Rural America Thrive

The Obama administration, which has the spotlight with Congress out of session this week, today announced a series of measures it says are aimed at improving rural economies and job creation.

Billed as part of President Obama’s “We Can’t Wait” economic efforts, the White House said that the plan consists of “three significant actions to expand the government’s purchase of biobased products, promote regional rural job creation efforts, and develop a rural healthcare workforce, all of which build on the historic investments the Administration has made in rural America over the past three years.”

“We Can’t Wait” refers to Obama’s drive to implement programs without the action of Congress, “because we can’t wait for Congress to act.”

“This administration will not be satisfied until everyone who wants a job, has a job – both in rural and urban communities,” said Commerce Secretary John Bryson. “Today’s announcements are just the latest example of federal partners aligning all of their efforts and resources to help businesses grow, create jobs, and ensure that our economy is built to last.” (“Built to last,” another Obama slogan, refers to his State of the Union push for renewed manufacturing jobs and skilled workers.)

Obama issued a presidential memorandum today to the heads of executive departments and agencies on
“Driving Innovation and Creating Jobs in Rural America through Biobased and Sustainable Product
Procurement.”

This starts with a directive to “dramatically increase” the purchase of biobased products over the next two years, increasing by 50 percent within one year items in the 64 categories already tagged by the USDA for “preferred federal procurement.” Manufacturers of biobased products can apply via the web for the USDA designation.

The memo declares that “biobased products are creating jobs across America,” and directs the secretary of Agriculture to track such job creation over the next two years.

The White House said the other two components of the plan are the Rural Jobs Accelerator — “a national competition that will provide about $15 million for projects that promote innovation-fueled regional job creation” — and the Rural Health IT Workforce, an agreement between the departments of Labor and Health and Human Services to support training of HIT professionals.

The announcements stem from working meetings of the White House Rural Council, and are supposed to “leverage existing programs and funding.”