The first of four jobs forums in Alaska, sponsored by the USDA Farm Service Agency and Rural Development attracted an audience of about 80 on Thursday. Participants turned out in Fairbanks to testify about job creation, braving temperatures of -30.
Joining Rural Development State Director Jim Nordlund and Farm Service Agency Executive Director Danny Consenstein at the Fairbanks forum were U.S. Senator Mark Begich; Borough Mayor Luke Hopkins; Fairbanks Economic Development Director Jim Dobson; Jerry Isaac, President of the Tanana Chiefs Conference and University of Alaska Fairbanks Chancellor Brian Rodgers.
Nordlund and Consenstein told the group that the Alaska meetings, and those being held across the Nation, are a direct follow up to a jobs summit held by President Obama in December, and that a report of the Alaska meetings, and the other meetings, will be provided to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack for presentation to the President in February. The jobs forum included sessions designed to explore pillars of job creation, as outlined by the Secretary.
“We had more than 80 people show up on a frigid (-30) Thursday afternoon” said Nordlund. “The jobs ideas were constructive, genuine and heartfelt. I’m sure the President and the Congress will welcome these proposals to foster our economic recovery.” Consenstein said: “Alaska’s rural areas have unique challenges. Alaskans from the Interior had great ideas about how broad band, renewable energy and food systems strategies can create much-needed jobs in the region.”
At the start of the forum, it was announced that USDA has obligated $49 million in rural water grant funds to improve sanitation in rural communities and provide jobs to rural residents. Additional forums will be held in Kotzebue, Juneau and Anchorage.
Alaska Rural Development State Director Jim Nordlund (at podium) speaks during a USDA-Sponsored Jobs Forum in Fairbanks
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”
By Wayne Maloney, Office of Communications