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About 120 Turn Out For a USDA Sponsored Jobs Forum in Ohio

Ohio’s difficult economic conditions, coupled with a genuine desire to create more statewide employment opportunities, prompted more than 120 Ohioans to participate in the state’s January 21, 2010 Jobs Forum. Read more »

Puerto Rico Community, Leaders Shares Ideas on Creating and Maintaining Jobs in Puerto Rico

José Otero-García, USDA Rural Development State Director, and Juan Ortiz, Farm Service Director, Sponsored a Presidential Roundtable Forum on job creation for Puerto Rico. The roundtable follows the Forum on Jobs and Economic Growth that President Obama hosted at the White House on December 3, 2009.

Fifty-two persons joined together to work in creating jobs. The activity was covered by TV Channel 13 and Primera Hora Newspaper. The diversity of issues discussed was amazing and the group was composed of the best Professionals in their field.

The information provided from the discussion will be sent and provided to Agriculture Secretary Vilsack and President Obama for consideration.

Job Forum Puerto RicoThe Honorable Lucy Arce, Senator of Puerto Rico, José Otero-García USDA RD State Director for Puerto Rico and Juan Ortiz, Farm Service Director at a jobs forum last week.

Submitted by Miguel A. Ramírez, Rural Development Public Affairs Coordinator for Puerto Rico.

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

USDA Teams Up with the Smithsonian to Preserve the Past

At an event at the National Museum of American History on Thursday, Kevin Concannon,Under Secretary for Food, Nutrition, and Consumer Services, signed a gift of transfer donating a collection of historic food coupons, proof sheets, early artist designs, printers plates and sample Electronic Benefit Transfer cards showcasing nearly 40 years (1960 – 2009) of the Food Stamp Program (FSP).

These rare materials will become part of the museum’s National Numismatic Collection, which consists of more than 1.5 million objects. The NNC includes materials documenting the history of the early FSP that began with the 1935 Agricultural Adjustment Act and lasted until 1943, as well as other forms of emergency currency, such as clamshells used by Americans during the Great Depression. With the new acquisition, the museum will hold the single most comprehensive research collection pertaining to food coupons.

At the event, US Concannon said “these items represent an important conversion of history in our country,” as he talked about ending the era of food coupons for a more modern “efficient and normative” way to issue benefits. Since 2004, all benefits have been issued electronically, through Electronic Benefit Transfer cards, similar to a debit cards.  The newer system provides users confidentiality, de-stigmatizing the program and greatly decreasing incidents of fraud.

The FSP began as a pilot program in the 1960s under President John F. Kennedy. Today’s program, now called the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), has the highest participation in the program’s history, serving nearly 38 million people, half of whom are children. SNAP is the largest of USDA Food and Nutrition Service’s 15 nutrition assistance programs that work in concert to form a national safety net against hunger.

Kansas USDA Holds ‘Rural Jobs Roundtable’ at 2010 Kansas Workforce Summit

USDA Rural Development State Director Patty Clark and Kansas FSA State Executive Director Adrian Polansky hosted a roundtable on job creation and economic growth in association with the 2010 Kansas Workforce Summit in Topeka. The “Rural Jobs Roundtable” was a special session at the summit and a follow-up to a national Jobs Forum held in December by President Obama.

A diverse group of over 150 business owners, educators, community leaders, economic development and workforce professionals, state, county, and city governments were in attendance.

State Director Clark was the moderator of the panel which included Mr. Polansky;  John Cyr, Director of Special Projects, North Central Regional Planning Commission; Mike Michaelis, Executive Director, Ellis County Coalition for Economic Development; Ed Martin, President/Chairman of the Board, Kaw Valley State Bank & Trust, Wamego; and Caleb Asher, Deputy Secretary, Workforce Development, Kansas Department of Commerce.

Comments from those in attendance included:

Participants and panelists stressed the importance of small business ownership transition in rural communities.  Rural community bankers expressed concern that they are being disproportionally penalized through increased fees and regulations.

Audience participants also asked if USDA Rural Development could consider adjustments to the Business Loan Guarantee program that would mitigate the up-front costs for business plans and feasibility studies, especially for smaller loans.  In particular, they noted that business start-ups associated with local and regional food systems currently have to finance the cost of a business plan and feasibility study for loans $50,000-$100,000 and those costs deter loan application.

The audience included representation from workforce development organizations and many rural manufacturing companies.  Collectively they emphasized the importance of education and workforce training in trade skills such as construction, precision manufacturing, electrical, etc.

Panelists and participants also stressed the importance of partnerships, especially when resources are limited.  During the Summit, the Governor of  Kansas announced receipt of a $6,000,000 grant from DOE for Green Job Training.  Partnerships with other federal agencies such as USDA Rural Development were discussed to extend and leverage the DOE/Kansas investment through business financing.

Participants were encouraged to fill out a seven question survey at the summit, or link to an electronic survey provided by the Kansas Farm Service Agency at www.fsa.usda.gov.ks before January 28th.

Job Forum Kansas (R-L) Adrian Polansky, Farm Service Agency Executive Director; Mike Michaelis, Executive Director, Ellis County Coalition for Economic Development; John Cyr, Director of Special Projects, North Central Regional Planning Commission; Ed Martin, President/Chairman of the Board, Kaw Valley State Bank & Trust, Wamego; Caleb Asher, Deputy Secretary, Workforce Development, Kansas Department of Commerce; and moderating the ‘Rural Jobs Roundtable’, USDA Rural Development State Director Patty Clark.

Kansas Job ForumOver 150 business owners, educators, community leaders, economic development and workforce professionals, state, county, and city governments participated in the Kansas USDA ‘Rural Jobs Roundtable’

Kansas Job ForumSubmitted by Harold Alford, Public Information Specialist on behalf of State Director Patty Clark

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

Oregon Business Owners, Community Leaders and Residents Share Success Stories and Frustrations at USDA Jobs Forum in Albany

Panels of economic experts, elected officials, community leaders and state agencies presented information in conjunction with Farm Service Agency (FSA) and Rural Development (RD) for a jointly hosted USDA Forum on Jobs & Economic Growth on January 21. The forum was held in Albany, a community with a 14 percent unemployment rate, well above the national rate. Read more »