One hundred and fifteen people from Georgia and South Carolina attended a U.S. Department of Agriculture-sponsored Presidential Roundtable Forum on job creation at Augusta State University earlier this week.
About 25 community leaders brainstormed solutions to high unemployment numbers and the impact on rural areas, while extra chairs were added as people continued to arrive.
“This forum provides an opportunity to share ideas on creating jobs and economic opportunities,” said Shirley Sherrod, state director of USDA Rural Development in Georgia. “Government can help lay the groundwork for economic growth, but the best ideas for continued growth and job creation often come from local communities. We need the best ideas to share with the Obama Administration.”
The roundtable included business owners, residents, state and local officials, union members, non-profit organizations, community leaders, economists, educators and others interested in job creation and economic stability. Fred Smith, District Director of the Georgia Department of Labor, provided the state’s perspective, including the most current statistics on unemployment and the most promising areas of job growth – healthcare and education.
Representatives from Senators Isakson and Chambliss, and Congressmen Barrow and Broun were present. Congressman Broun sent a statement to be read by his representative, Nicole Avecedo.
“The primary purpose is to put South Carolinians back to work,” said Vernita F. Dore, state director of USDA Rural Development in South Carolina. “We all know that unemployment in our state is one of the highest in the nation, and this forum brings the opportunity to change that. It gives us the chance to remind rural America about the many programs that Rural Development has to address this economy’s problem.”
“Moreover,” Dore continued, “it gives Rural Development the opportunity to remind rural communities that Rural Development stands poised with direct and guaranteed loan and grant programs to finance and help to create jobs and stimulate the economy. We believe that this forum will truly generate ideas for job creation and economic expansion in our state.”
“Our rural areas have been hit very hard in some counties,” Sherrod said. “Most communities need more economic diversity to sustain tough times like this, and that usually means small businesses need more support. Rural Development does have programs to help rural areas address this issue.”
Submitted by EJ Stapler and Marlous Black, USDA Rural Development