By Michael Jones, Ohio USDA Public Information Coordinator
Ohio Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur invited USDA Rural Development Deputy Under Secretary Cheryl L. Cook to attend a district sponsored USDA Resource Fair earlier this month. Cook and about 90 business owners, agricultural growers, local community leaders and residents gathered to evaluate available financial and technical assistance resources at multiple events in the Toledo and Huron County area.
Congresswoman Kaptur hosted the event to get critical financial and strategic information to inquiring entrepreneurs in her district. The events were divided into morning and afternoon sessions, with the morning agenda focusing on the particular needs of the agricultural community. The afternoon session targeted the concerns of urban non-profit and cooperative organizations and generated suggestions to improve profitability.
As the congresswoman’s guest speaker, Deputy Under Secretary Cook took the opportunity at both venues to broadly discuss USDA’s economic development policy initiatives, with specific technical program support provided by panel members from Rural Development, Farm Services Agency, Natural Resources Conservation Service, Small Business Administration and the Center for Innovative Food Technology.
Panel discussions and an interactive audience promoted the adoption of innovative, cooperative approaches which could increase area businesses accessibility to funding available from attending federal and state resource organizations.
Congresswoman Kaptur ended both events by emphasizing the importance of federal agencies, like Rural Development, to strive to customize their programs to meet the needs of the expanding community of potential customers. She also advocated that a commitment be made to streamline the complex regulatory restrictions that make usage of several federal programs prohibitive.