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What a Difference Rural Development Can Make

Under Secretary for Rural Development Dallas Tonsager spent a busy week recently traveling throughout the heartland as a part of President Obama’s Rural Tour.

Under Secretary Tonsager attended a Rural Tour event in Iowa with President Obama and Secretary Vilsack, and then continued to South Dakota where he took part in DakotaFest. DakotaFest is an annual outdoor farm show that takes place on the Schlafffman Farm outside of Mitchell, SD.  Mr. Tonsager visited with South Dakotans attending DakotaFest and talked about  rural issues most important to them.

L-R:  Rural Development State Director Elsie M. Meeks and Natural Resources Conservation Service State Conservationist Janet Oertly.

L-R: Under Secretary for Rural Development, Dallas Tonsager, Rural Development State Director Elsie M. Meeks and Natural Resources Conservation Service State Conservationist Janet Oertly.

Under Secretary Tonsager led a White House Business Council Roundtable event with local business leaders in Howard, SD to seek their input on ways to improve economic conditions and create jobs. The Roundtable was hosted by Randy Parry, former Executive Director of the Rural Learning Center and active Board Member, and facilitated by Under Secretary Tonsager, and a member of the White House Business Council on Winning the Future.

“I have a close relationship with this area. I grew up near Oldham where my brother continues to farm,” said Under Secretary Tonsager.  “We want to address as many issues as possible to move forward to the White House.  We have an enormous opportunity in South Dakota with agriculture, wind, and the corn/ethanol industries to enhance economic opportunity and advance rural American.”

Wrapping up the week, the Under Secretary attended the grand opening of the Maroney Rural Learning Center in Howard with South Dakota Senator Tim Johnson.  The facility made possible through funding from the American Recovery Reinvestment Act (ARRA), includes a 24-room hotel, community kitchen, restaurant, and dining room, in addition to being a Leadership in Energy and Environment Design (LEED) certified conference and training center. The facility will house cutting edge green energy training programs that bring communities, high school and adult students, technical institute programs, and the renewable energy industry together.

Under Secretary for Rural Development Dallas Tonsager ended the week with a feeling of accomplishment having been part of a successful trip to highlight the accomplishments and needs of rural America.

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