Press Release

Welch, Gillibrand Introduce ‘RISE Reauthorization Act’ to Improve and Expand USDA Grant Program, Create Jobs in Rural America 

May 15, 2024

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Peter Welch (D-Vt.), Chair of the Senate Agriculture Subcommittee on Rural Development and Energy, and U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) introduced the Rural Innovation for a Stronger Economy (RISE) Reauthorization Act, a bill to reauthorize and improve the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s RISE Program. Created in 2018, the RISE program provides federal grant funding to rural job accelerator partnerships that support in-demand job training, business formation and expansion efforts, and overall economic growth. 

“There is no shortage of innovators in America. But a lack of financial resources that help folks in rural communities pursue economic and business opportunities leaves their ideas behind,” said Senator Welch. “The USDA’s RISE program has been a lifeline for building business operations and creating more good-paying jobs in rural communities. This bill will continue these crucial efforts and make adjustments to reach more folks where they are and help them achieve their economic and small business dreams.” 

“Rural America is the backbone of our country and it is vital that the federal government invests resources to match the important contributions of these communities,” said Senator Gillibrand. “Reauthorizing the RISE Grant Program is a crucial step to ensure the economies of our rural communities continue to grow with good-paying jobs and new businesses. I am proud to co-lead this important bill to reauthorize the program and look forward to working with my colleagues to get it passed.” 

The RISE Reauthorization Act is endorsed by the Vermont-based Center on Rural Innovation.  

“Rural America is ready for new models for economic development and the Rural Innovation Stronger Together (RISE) is the perfect program to support small town efforts to build economies of the future. Despite low funding to date, the grants from the USDA RISE program have been transformational. We are excited to see what reauthorization and new funding can bring to build on this momentum,” said Matt Dunne, Founder and Executive Director of the Center on Rural Innovation

Specifically, the RISE Reauthorization Act would: 

  • Provide the RISE Program with a minimum of $50 million in discretionary funding;  
  • Increase the diversity of industry bases the program awards; and 
  • Ease requirements for proposed job accelerator partnerships. 

Read the full text of the bill.