Thank you Willie Nelson for giving us a great theme song during our journey around the great state of Texas recently as we continued the conversation about jobs and economic growth in rural America that began in December with President Obama at the White House. The Farm Service Agency Executive Director, Juan Garcia, and I decided that the best way to hold these forums were to do it face-to-face with our rural communities. Nine days of driving over 3000 miles, we met with over 100 Texans at seven forums held in strategically located areas.
We met with ranchers, business owners, county judges, mayors, city council members, economic development corporations, chambers of commerce, university community development specialists and congressional representatives. Each forum proved to be as diverse and interesting as the next, just like Texas.
At the conclusion of the forums, several key points were in the forefront statewide:
- Need for “green jobs” and value added products
- Access to broadband
- Renewable Energy
- Assistance for small businesses due to the lack of available credit and equity requirements
- Education availability for skilled blue collar jobs
- Assistance for the elderly
- Financial assistance for non-profits administration
Rural America is the backbone of this nation. If we don’t do everything within our power to make rural communities sustainable and viable, then we have some serious problems ahead. These forums prove that we need to get back to our basic principles and what made this country so strong. We need to continue to invest in our agricultural community and education system so that future generations may continue to prosper in our rural communities. The people who reside in rural Texas continue to be strong and resilient in their belief that things will get better with hard work and determination.
Texas officials meet prior to a Jobs Forum. Meetings were held across Texas.
Paco Valentin – USDA Rural Development Texas State Director