The Rural Community Assistance Program (RCAP) held an intensive two-day economic development conference in Ohio on Aug. 24-25 targeting educational outreach to the state’s small, rural community leaders. With more than 300 participants from Ohio and neighboring states on hand, and an impressive line-up of speakers and workshops, the conference provided both motivation and insights on strategic planning for those in attendance.
Ohio U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown was the keynote speaker during the first day of the conference and he talked specifically about the actions that were necessary to improve America’s rural economy. Senator Brown took the opportunity to mention a recently-announced multi-million dollar Broadband award that will help bring service to Appalachian communities.
Judith Canales, USDA Rural Development Administrator for Business and Cooperative Programs, also addressed conference attendees and aptly picked up on the senator’s theme of active participation in enacting local economic development initiatives within rural communities. Canales was invited because RCAP and Rural Development partner on rural water and wastewater infrastructure projects and other economic development initiatives.
Canales also used her Ohio visit to make an afternoon call on a local business, Ohio Precious Metals located in Jackson, that received a $9.4 million financing package through Rural Development from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
Conference topics and workshops covered the breath of concerns rural community leaders encounter daily as they grapple with decreasing budgets and ever-changing priorities. Divided into three major tracts during both days, the overarching themes were: infrastructure, economic development and legislative affairs.
RCAP, operating since 1972, is a nationwide network of six regional nonprofit organizations that provides training and technical assistance to solve water and wastewater problems in small, rural communities. Rural communities planning infrastructure improvements or other economic development activities should visit the RCAP website at www.glrcap.org/ohio to see if they might be able to help develop solutions to some of their funding concerns.