WASHINGTON, D.C. (WBOY) – The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced on Thursday that West Virginia will be added to the Rural Partners Network (RPN) and that 20 counties will benefit.

The RPN is a government program that partners with rural people to help them access resources and funding to create local jobs, build infrastructure, and support long-term economic stability.

Two community networks for the program have been added to West Virginia.

West Virginia Pioneer Community Network coordinated by Glenville State University and housed at the Waco Center will include the following counties:

  • Braxton
  • Calhoun
  • Clay
  • Gilmer
  • Nicholas
  • Roane
  • Webster
  • Wirt

The Southern West Virginia Community Network coordinated by the WV Community Development Hub and housed at Hawks Nest will include the following counties:

  • Mingo
  • Wayne
  • Lincoln
  • Boone
  • Logan
  • Wyoming
  • McDowell
  • Mercer
  • Monroe
  • Raleigh
  • Summers
  • Fayette

“Rural people make up America’s spirit and character and provide the everyday essentials our country depends on,” said USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack. “We know that when rural people thrive, America thrives. By expanding the Rural Partners Network, we can help these important but often overlooked communities receive their fair share of government resources to keep rural people and economies prepared for the future.”

According to the USDA press release, the program will help “local leaders and residents collaborate with civic and business organizations, nonprofits, service providers, development agencies and others to create new opportunities and build on the diversity of a region’s population and perspectives.”

In total, RPN now serves in nine states and Puerto Rico.