Despite frigid temperatures and snow-packed and icy roads, nearly 200 Nebraskans brought their ideas and solutions to the Nebraska Forum on Rural Jobs and Small Business Credit on Friday, January 8.
The Nebraska Video Conference Network provided eight sites across the state so that participants had fewer miles to travel in order to attend. The Forum was convened by USDA Rural Development, Farm Services Agency, Natural Resources Conservation Service, Forest Service and 28 other co-conveners. The Forum was moderated by Rural Development State Director Maxine Moul and included video welcomes from USDA Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan and Nebraska’s senior U.S. Senator, Ben Nelson.
The entire conference was video taped by Nebraska Education Television and Nebraskans will also be able to provide their comments through a special e-mail address, firstname.lastname@example.org and through this blog.
Present at the forum were representatives of Senators Ben Nelson and Mike Johanns and Congressmen Jeff Fortenberry and Adrian Smith.
The conference sites were in local libraries, on community college campuses, a state office building, University education center and in the state’s two largest communities, Lincoln and Omaha. Attendees included business owners, bankers, entrepreneurs, students, local economic developers, university leaders and representatives from industries like ethanol and the agriculture sectors.
Critical elements for Nebraska’s rural economy, according to the participants are cutting edge technology, retaining youth, community investment, business education and training, creating better paying jobs and the financial resources offered by local, state and federal agencies. The impact of the proposed healthcare reform and new banking regulations are concerns for rural small businesses.
At the conclusion of the Forum, USDA Rural Development announced that it will be convening a day-long conference in Kearney on March 1, as a result of the Forum. The Rural Jobs, Rural Opportunities Conference will build on the comments and suggestions gathered at the Forum.
A report on the Forum will be sent to the President, USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack, members of the Nebraska Congressional Delegation, State Senators, and the attendees.
The Kearney Hub daily newspaper editorialized that the Forum was an opportunity for Nebraskans to “Share your big ideas to regrow rural Nebraska…and if ever Nebraska was in need of some creativity, the time is now.”
Submitted by Vicki A. Schurman, Nebraska Public Information Officer, USDA Rural Development
To learn more, go to the Rural Development and FSA Job Roundtables Schedule, and the News Release, “USDA to Host Roundtables on Jobs, Economic Growth”