Last week the White House Rural Council announced the creation of a new U.S. Rural Infrastructure Opportunity Fund through which private entities can invest in rural infrastructure projects across the United States. CoBank, a cooperative bank based in Greenwood Village, Colorado, has committed an initial $10 billion to launch the fund. Target investments will include hospitals, schools and other educational facilities, rural water and wastewater systems, energy projects, broadband expansion, local and regional food systems, and other rural infrastructure. Capitol Peak Asset Management, which has offices in Washington, D.C. and Denver, will manage the new fund and work to recruit more investors to add to CoBank’s initial commitment. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and other federal agencies will help to identify rural projects that could be potential beneficiaries of financing through this new fund and other private sources.
“This fund represents a new approach to our support for job-creating projects across the country,” said Tom Vilsack, USDA Secretary and Chair of the White House Rural Council. “USDA and other agencies invest in infrastructure through a variety of federal initiatives, but our resources are finite and there are backlogs of projects in many parts of the economy.”
The fund will allow a wide variety of investors, including pension funds, endowments, foundations, and other institutions new to investment in rural development. In some cases, projects may be funded entirely through the private sector; in others, private funds may be leveraged with government loan and grant programs.
CWC applauds this initiative, as it will attract private funds for critically needed water infrastructure projects in rural areas, providing jobs and supporting local economies across the country. Vilsack specifically noted, for example, the lengthy waiting list of water and wastewater projects in rural communities that the USDA “would love to fund but simply [doesn’t] have the capacity” for.
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