There is no doubt that these are tough times. They are very tough for the many Americans looking for work.
So we must keep finding ways to help the unemployed in the short term and rebuild the middle class over the long term.
President Obama has focused on that challenge since his first day in office. And it’s why he addressed Congress and all Americans recently to lay out the way forward to grow the economy and create jobs.
There are common sense steps we can take right now. We have roads, bridges, water systems, rail lines and dams across this country that need rebuilding. This failing infrastructure is widespread throughout rural Missouri, as well as the rest of the U.S.
We have private companies with the equipment and know-how to go to work on these infrastructure projects. Nationally, we have more than 1 million unemployed construction workers ready to take on the job of rebuilding our communities.
The president wants to extend the payroll tax cut for working families, putting an extra $1,500 in the pockets of those families. It is one of the best ways to increase consumer demand — creating more work for businesses and more jobs for workers.
The president wants to make it easier to help small businesses put people back to work, especially our returning veterans, by offering tax credits for each new job created. Under his plan, thousand of firms in Missouri would receive payroll tax cuts.
He wants to help state and local governments. Police, firefighters and other first responders continue to need the resources necessary to provide a safe and better environment for our families.
Rural Development of the U.S. Department of Agriculture has been working to pursue some of these same strategies by assisting rural communities in providing the infrastructure and supporting innovative businesses that are the key to job creation, retention and expansion.
The agency assists with building basic infrastructure that supports economic development in rural communities, including electricity, water systems, broadband and housing.
We create and sustain rural job opportunities and support entrepreneurs from the micro-enterprise level to large-scale manufacturing, so those who live in rural communities don’t have to commute to metropolitan areas in order to support their families and pay their mortgages.
In partnership with other public and private sector businesses, Rural Development programs have created or saved hundreds of thousands of American jobs and continues to improve the economic climate of rural areas by helping create additional job opportunities for the under-served rural areas and populations.
Folks in rural America know that in difficult times, we need to come together to hammer out a solution that benefits everyone in support of job growth and building a stronger future for all Americans.
USDA Rural Development stands ready to be a partner in meeting the needs of rural Missouri.
Anita J. (Janie) Dunning is the state director of the USDA Rural Development Agency in Missouri. She has over 40 years of experience in rural and economic development at the federal, state and local level.