Regional Economic Development Targets Rural Counties

Eric Vigil
USDA Rural Development Acting State Director Eric Vigil. Courtesy photo

Regional Economic Development Targets Rural Counties

Submitted by Chris Clark 

ALBUQUERQUE ― USDA Rural Development Acting State Director Eric Vigil announced Feb. 16 applications are now being taken for the Stronger Economies Together (SET) program.

The SET program is a collaborative initiative between New Mexico State University (NMSU) and USDA Rural Development to provide training and technical assistance to rural counties seeking to strengthen existing regional economic development efforts.

Thursday’s announcement is one part of the economic development efforts established by USDA to help rural communities work together to develop and implement a regional economic development strategy or plan. Six organizations throughout New Mexico have received assistance through the program.

In making the announcement Vigil said, “We’ve found when communities work together to develop a plan to solve common economic development issues they become more successful and sustainable.” Vigil added, “We believe by participating in the SET program a rural community will develop realistic strategies to meet the economic challenges they are facing.”

At this time one regional community made up of three or four counties will be selected to participate in the next SET program. 

The regional community that is chosen will receive a number of important benefits including:

·       Twenty-hours of valuable coaching through the SET program and guidance on ways to strengthen and enhance regional economic development activities.

·       Key data tailored to each region will be provided to help the regional team examine the critical drivers of its economy and emerging economic sectors that may determine if that particular region might hold a comparative edge in the domestic and/or the international marketplace.

·       Tools that can help uncover the variety of assets and resources that exists in that region that can contribute to the region’s economic activities.

·       Technical assistance and educational support from NMSU Extension educators, RD staff, and appropriate Regional Rural Development Centers for the one-year period of the project.

·       The value of these benefits will be in excess of $101,000 per region.

Applications are due electronically no later than March 10, 2017 (by 11:59 p.m. Mountain Daylight Time) and should be sent to RD Community Development Coordinator Terry McDermott at:

Site visits will be scheduled with the strongest applicants by late March. A final decisions on the selected region is expected to be announced in late April 2017.

All applications will be carefully reviewed by the SET State Partner Team. The team is composed of representatives of the New Mexico USDA RD, NMSU Cooperative Extension Service, and other key economic development organizations or agencies in the state. National USDA RD office and Regional Rural Development Center personnel will also provide input.

Direct questions about the application process to:

  • Community Resource and Economic Development Specialist Michael Patrick at New Mexico Cooperative Extension Service at JMPAT@NMSU.EDU.