WASHINGTON, D.C. –U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) issued a statement today welcoming U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Utilities Service Administrator Jonathan Adelstein to southeastern Ohio. The meeting, part of a series of roundtables that are being held across the country through the White House Business Council and White House Rural Council to examine job creation in rural areas, was attended by a representative from Brown’s office and local business leaders. It was hosted by David Wilhelm, Co-founder and CEO of New Harvest Ventures, an alternative energy development company with headquarters in Gahanna.
“Small businesses create nearly two-thirds of new jobs in our country, and with half of Ohio’s counties being rural, small towns and rural communities remain critical to Ohio’s economic prosperity,” Brown said. “I’m excited to work with Administrator Adelstein to grow jobs in Ohio and I remain focused on helping emerging small businesses secure resources to prosper and existing businesses maintain access to credit to expand their operations.”
The participants discussed increased investment in rural areas and federal engagement with a variety of rural stakeholders, including agricultural organizations, small businesses, and state and local governments. In June, President Obama signed an Executive Order establishing the first White House Rural Council, chaired by USDA Sec. Tom Vilsack.
Brown is working to unlock credit markets for small businesses and encourage entrepreneurship throughout the state. Last year, Brown introduced the Business Incubator Promotion Act, which would make more communities in Ohio eligible to receive funds that support business incubators through the Economic Development Administration. This bill would encourage the formation of business incubators in distressed communities to promote innovation and entrepreneurship, helping regions to create high-skill, high-wage jobs. It would also give EDA authority, in cases of severe economic distress, to reduce the non-federal share (match) to 20 percent of the cost of a project or to waive the local share if the unemployment rate of the area exceeds 12 percent.
In March, Brown addressed the Ohio Farm Bureau in Washington, D.C., where he announced his plans for the ‘Grown in Ohio’ tour in advance of the 2012 farm bill. At that speech, Brown outlined priorities for economic development and job growth in Ohio’s agricultural industry and Ohio’s rural communities. In March, Brown also held a call with nearly 30 Ohio farmers to announce that he is the new chair of the Senate Agriculture Subcommittee on Jobs, Rural Economic Growth, and Energy. The critical panel is responsible for job creation in small towns and rural communities and the continued development of renewable fuels and clean energy technologies that support rural America.
Brown has held more than 170 roundtables throughout the state, and he is the first Ohioan to serve on the Senate Agriculture Committee in more than 40 years and the first Ohioan ever to serve simultaneously on the Senate Appropriations Agriculture Subcommittee. Agriculture is Ohio’s largest industry.