AUSTIN -- The rural development arm of the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Texas Department of Agriculture recently signed a commitment to back the University of Texas at San Antonio’s Texas Rural Challenge. The initiative, which is overseen by UT San Antonio’s Institute for Economic Development, secured a commitment to increase access to financing in rural areas of mutual interest July 17.
TDA Commissioner Sid Miller and Texas state director for USDA Rural Development Edd Hargett approved the partnership at UT San Antonio’s 10th annual Texas Rural Challenge in New Braunfels.
The Institute for Economic Development said the partnership will develop innovation clusters in rural areas and aid in improving financing opportunities for rural small businesses. The institute said the partners ‘will also identify prospects to deliver programs, methods to increase tax cut benefits and provide tools to help rural small businesses export products around the world,’
“We are excited to have the opportunity to collaborate with these partners to enhance rural economic development relationships and build stronger communities,” Hargett said in a prepared statement. “USDA is committed to partnering with local leaders to provide the tools and resources needed in order to ensure rural prosperity in Texas today and in the future.”
USDA Rural Development has granted $4.2 million to the state of Texas in 2019 – as of June 7. The organization provided a combined $45.5 million in grants in 2018.
“By participating in the Texas Rural Challenge, TDA is able to share information on agency programs and resources to help cultivate rural economies and direct financial resources where they’re needed most,” Miller said in a prepared statement. “By helping rural businesses innovate and keeping rural health care accessible, TDA is working to ensure rural Texas continues to thrive. Our mission here at the Texas Department of Agriculture is to help empower rural communities and promote Texas agriculture.”
UT San Antonio and USDA declined to detail the financial details of the agreement.