The United States Department of Agriculture Rural Development and Farm Service Agency in Louisiana hosted a Jobs and Economic Growth Roundtable in Alexandria, bringing together more than 30 community leaders, business owners, and residents from across the state to discuss what is needed to create jobs and economic development in rural Louisiana.
“This is in response to a request from President Obama” said Clarence Hawkins, Rural Development State Director and moderator of the roundtable. “The Obama Administration is currently exploring every avenue available to foster job creation and USDA Rural Development has been tasked nationally to take the lead in this effort. Your input in identifying obstacles and opportunities will be provided to the United States Department of Agriculture Secretary, Tom Vilsack, and to the White House.”
The discussion centered on infrastructure, spanning the need for better transportation to possible solutions in developing more production ready sites. The group identified Louisiana’s strengths which included health care, energy services, and law enforcement. Obstacles discussed included lack of a skilled workforce, lack of capital for small businesses, and the need to further develop and strengthen the state’s infrastructure. Much discussion centered around the impact on Louisiana’s forest industry with recent paper mill closings in the state.
USDA officials discussed the resources that are invested in Louisiana including funds for housing, businesses, community infrastructure and facilities, broadband, farming, biomass, and conservation. These all create jobs. All agreed in the importance of state and federal agencies collaborating to educate each and every rural community in the state.
In summary, Hawkins stated, “This group identified a serious need for additional funds to renovate and develop infrastructure, as that serves as the foundation for us to attract the industries that will provide the jobs we need in Louisiana.”
USDA Rural Development Louisiana State Director Clarence W. Hawkins welcomes attendees to the Roundtable on Jobs and Economic Growth held Tuesday, January 26, 2010, in Alexandria, Louisiana
Some of the attendees at the Roundtable on Jobs and Economic Growth held Tuesday, January 26, 2010, in Alexandria, Louisiana, sponsored by USDA Rural Development and USDA Farm Service Agency
Submitted by Karen Nardini on behalf of Clarence W. Hawkins, State Director, USDA Rural Development, Louisiana
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”