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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

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