PARTNERS FOR RURAL AMERICA WORKS FOR RURAL AMERICA
Rural Development Councils from sixteen states met in Montpelier, Vermont during the week of September 9, 2013 to hold its annual meeting, elect officers, reinforce collaborations and visit successful community vitality and entrepreneurship activities. Partners for Rural America (PRA) strengthened its ties with Rural Policy Research Institute and its President and CEO Chuck Fluharty and state policy centers from nine states.
Given its mission from the Farm Bill, PRA is a unique bridge building organization of the state councils and helps them collaborate across sectors, coordinate program development and implementation and support models for community success. All councils work to connect local folks to regional, state, federal, non-profit and private sector resources to enable them to move forward and accomplish their long term priorities and build leadership.
The meeting was enhanced by visits and comments by Speaker of the Vermont House of Representatives Shap Smith, Secretary of Administration Jeb Spaulding and Lt. Governor Phil Scott
PRA elected its sixteen member board representing eight districts from across the county. It also elected its officers as follows: Chair: Jerry Townsend, Illinois Rural Partners; Vice-Chair: Mike Field, Idaho Rural Partnership; Secretary: Mary Ann Hayes, Maine Rural Partners and Treasurer: Mary Randolph, Wyoming Rural Development Council.
Congressman Peter Welch of Vermont was awarded the Champion of Rural America award for strong ongoing support of Partners for Rural America. Ricky Rolfsmeyer of Wisconsin Rural Partners and immediate past chair of PRA was presented the Ron Shaffer Award.
PRA’s website is www.partnersforruralamerica.org
A Summit on the Future of VT's Working Landscape
Plan to join us on December 17th for the 2013 Future of Vermont's Working Landscape Summit designed to bring all parties and partners together, build unity and momentum, and advance the next steps needed for public policy and investment for Vermont's Working Lands. Please hold the date in your calendar and "LIKE" the Working Landscape Partnership on facebook!
Illinois Rural Partners is one of the cosponsors of an annual rural community and economic development conference with attendance of around 300. You can click below to see the agendas and access the presentations for the conferences held in 2010 to 2013.
Wyoming Main Street offers best practices workshop
The Wyoming Rural Development Council/Wyoming Main Street office is offering their annual mobile best practices workshop in conjunction with the 2013 National Main Streets Conference. This event is a precursor to the national conference and provides those interested or already involved in downtown revitalization an opportunity to learn how Main Street™ communities around the country have made their downtowns what they are today.
This year’s workshop will take over 80 people to communities in Louisiana and Mississippi to see how the Main Street programs in these communities have applied the Main Street Four-Point Approach™. The group will be learning about the relationships built through the programs and also their “wins.” Specific workshop highlights include a downtown living, getting non-profits involved in major events, building a strong business mix in downtowns and how to market that mix, and utilization of Community Development Block Grants for a façade enhancement program.
Projects based in Stevens Point, Ashland, Clark/Marathon Counties, Three Lakes and statewide through the Midwest Organic and Sustainable Education Service take Top Rural Development Initiative honors
Madison - Wisconsin Rural Partners, Inc. awarded the Top Rural Development Initiatives for 2012 at a ceremony at the Howard Johnson Plaza Hotel in Madison, Wisconsin on Friday, March 15, 2013. The awards were presented by Wisconsin Rural Partners president Arlene Scalzo at the launch of “Rural Wisconsin Today” and a panel discussion by top state policy makers.
The five efforts receiving Top Initiative awards are:
The Heart of America’s Dairyland Agriculture Enterprise Area, Clark and Marathon Counties - One of Wisconsin’s Agriculture Enterprise Areas was formed after over 50 public meetings and support of 211 landowners and 29 local businesses.
Anchor for Technology in the Northwest, Three Lakes – For a unique successful effort to bring High Speed Internet to a sparsely populated rural area. Almost 90% of Three Lakes residents now have access to up to four providers with a top speed of 12.0 Mbps, a vital and unprecedented accomplishment
Ashland Union Depot Project, Ashland – A huge community effort helps restore a beautiful old 1889 Richardsonian Romanesque style “union depot” complete with a prominent tower that was destroyed by fire, adding to tax rolls and creating new jobs.
Rural Women’s Project, statewide through the Midwest Organic and Sustainable Education Service – This outstanding project has three components:: 1) Women Farmer Training, 2) Soil Sisters: South Central Wisconsin Women in Sustainable Agriculture Farm Tour, and 3) Women Caring for the Land. Each of these initiatives came to life thanks to collaboration and support from a range of non-profit groups as well as the women-owned farms themselves.
Central Rivers Farmshed, Stevens Point - The Central Rivers Farmshed, Inc. is a grassroots, non-profit organization, creating asset-based economic development by working to expand the connection between local residents and their food by providing opportunities for participation, education, cooperation, and action to support a local food economy.
Wisconsin Rural Partners is a statewide non-profit organization that develops leadership, networks and voice for rural Wisconsin. WRP is the federally-recognized State Rural Development Council for Wisconsin.
This is the thirteenth year that Wisconsin Rural Partners has presented the state’s Top Rural Development Initiatives. The program is designed to identify, highlight, and share innovative models, practices and programs that have a positive impact on rural Wisconsin communities. Wisconsin Rural Partners created the program to provide a mechanism for rural communities to learn from each other.
Simon names 2013 rural Illinois champion
(OFFICE OF THE LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR)
Vermont Council on Rural Development to lead online disaster relief efforts with new grant
Paul Costello, left, director of the Vermont Council on Rural Development and
Senator Patrick Leahy announce the EDA grant at a January 11, 2013 press conference
On Friday, January 11, 2013 the office of Senator Patrick Leahy announced the award of a $1.8 million grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration to the Vermont Council on Rural Development (VCRD), Vermont’s State Rural Development Council (SRDC).
The grant will fund an innovative system of online resources that utilizes the Vermont Digital Economy Project, also a VCRD initiative. Up to 25 communities impacted by Hurricane Irene in 2011 and more recently by flooding will be able to utilize online resources to bolster disaster recovery efforts. A suite of online tools, broadband infrastructure and counseling will be available.
For more information on this exciting project, see the attached press release.
The e-Vermont Community Broadband Project's final report is now available
Over two years of work in rural towns across our state, e-Vermont has built a cultural infrastructure for innovation in how we use online tools to strengthen our communities, businesses, schools, and government. The e-Vermont partners brought services directly to 24 communities, but the lessons learned and tools we've created can help any rural town improve how they put broadband resources to work in reaching local goals.
Click here to read the full report.
Maine’s Mary Ann Hayes receives prestigious Ron Shaffer Award at PRA annual meeting
Chris Marko, co-chair of Oregon Rural Development Council and 2011 award winner, presents Mary Ann Hayes with the Ron Shaffer Award for Excellence in Collaborative Leadership
(Photo courtesy of Partners for Rural America)
Mary Ann Hayes, director of Maine Rural Partners, received the prestigious Ron Shaffer Award at the August annual meeting of Partners for Rural America. We at PRA are proud to make this award to someone who embodies what we are all about as state councils and rural advocates. Click here to read the story from the Bangor Daily news
News Flash: Rural Partners of Michigan merges with Michigan Rural Network
This is an exciting time for rural advocates in Michigan. Two rural focused organizations have joined forces in order to better serve communities. CEDAM is pleased to announce that the Rural Partners of Michigan and the Michigan Rural Network have merged to create the Michigan Rural Council (MRC). For several years, these two organizations have both been working on behalf of rural places. This merger is a consolidation of both groups’ efforts and will create a more streamlined approach to addressing rural Michigan’s issues.
The MRC is poised to take part in the growing conversations about rural development in Michigan. Governor Snyder has elevated rural development into the spotlight by explicitly adding it to the title of the Michigan Department of Agriculture, now titled Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development. In addition agri-tourism, agriculture and rural infrastructure were discussed in the recent State of the State address. MRC members are excited to serve as partners and resources in the work to make rural Michigan a great place to live.
Representatives from each organization worked together to develop a shared mission and vision for the Rural Council:
MRC Mission: The Michigan Rural Council connects and educates community leaders, provides expertise and advocates for policy and projects to impact rural Michigan.
MRC Vision: The Michigan Rural Council is a bridge between leaders and communities to revitalize and enhance rural Michigan.
Michigan Rural Council members hope you will join us in this work! As part of the MRC, you will have the opportunity to participate in one of our issue-based working groups. MRC convenes groups around specific areas including broadband, housing, economic development, rural philanthropy, transportation and more. If you would like to be involved in action oriented projects designed to benefit rural communities, a working group is the place to be! The Rural Council will also continue to offer bi-monthly meetings. These meetings not only give you the chance to meet and converse with other community leaders and rural advocates, but each meeting also provides an in-depth discussion of a topic related to rural community building. Finally, MRC will distribute a monthly electronic newsletter filled with rural news, policy updates, funding alerts and more. You can stay up to date by having this resource delivered directly to your inbox.
RPM is Michigan's USDA designated state rural development council, and under the new merged organization, MRC director Kari Marciniak will serve in the position of director of this SRDC. She'll also serve as designated representative in the Partners for Rural America (PRA) organization. The contact information for Kari and the Michigan Rural Council is:
Coordinator, Michigan Rural Council
Community Economic Development Association of Michigan (CEDAM)
1000 S. Washington, Lansing, MI 48910
Partners for Rural America congratulates all involved in this exciting merger and welcome Kari to the PRA family.
Illinois Rural Partners reflects on 2011 successes
Illinois Rural Partners recently released a recap of their highlights and accomplishments from the previous year. Like other State Rural Development Councils across the nation IRP embodies the spirit or collaboration as it works to coordinate efforts toward a brighter future for rural Illinois.
Illinois Rural Partners........
Connects Rural Partners Members to One Another
Rural Partners connects our membership by providing networking opportunities at conferences; posting information to the updated and interactive website; publishing a newsletter, sharing success stories, funding opportunities and ideas; and responding to individual initiatives across the state. Rural Partners acts as an intermediary to resolve impediments between communities, not for profit corporations, businesses, state and federal agencies, and others helping to resolve impediments to progress.
Sponsors, Plans and Participates in Conferences
Rural Partners co-sponsors and attracts exhibitors to community and business development, broadband, leadership and other conferences to inform rural leaders, enable them to replicate successes of others, and to find creative approaches to address problems and develop opportunities. Rural Partners was a gold level sponsor of the Economic Development Downstate Summit attended by over 200 economic developers and legislators to develop support of favorable legislation for TIF Districts and Enterprise Zones. The annual Rural Economic Development Conference in Peoria is March 7-8 and the annual Leadership Conference is June 6th.
Provides Funding For the Illinois Rural Life Poll
The results of the Rural Life Poll, conducted by the IL Institute for Rural Affairs and partially funded by Rural Partners’ membership dues, has been widely used by community leaders, policy makers, conference planners and others as well as the Rural Partners board.
Publishes Regular and Information Packed Newsletters
Rural Partners is recommitted to provide regular newsletters with articles about funding, conferences, success stories and more. Our members and others are encouraged to contribute articles and information which can help promote your company, your cause or your ideas. Over 95% of our members say they read these newsletters.
Keeps You in Touch with State Government Leadership
As a member of the Governor’s Rural Affairs Council and Housing, Child Care, Extension, Transportation and other task forces, Rural Partners is informed of state rural development initiatives and funding opportunities, and steps up to share issues and address problems facing rural communities and businesses.
Updated Rural Partners Website
Rural Partners updated its website to make it more informative, responsive and interactive to better serve our members and others. Check it out at www.ruralpartners.org
Speaks for and Advocates for Rural Issues
Rural communities and organizations look to Rural Partners to be their voice. Rural Partners provided that voice at Illinois affordable housing task force meetings; Governor’s Rural Affairs Council and through its membership in the National Partners for Rural America, Association of Counties, Association of Townships, Extension Partners, National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition and others.
Supported Establishment of an Annual Housing Awards Program
With others, Rural Partners actively supported the establishment of an annual awards program to recognize and seek duplication of housing initiatives that demonstrated innovation and excellence.
Asks for Feedback from Members
Rural Partners stays in touch with its members. Rural Partners continually seeks input from its members and others to determine their needs and priorities and what services Rural Partners should offer. Continuing existing services in this time of tight budgets, obtaining broadband service and supporting existing businesses and entrepreneurs are current high priority goals.
Join Rural Partners!
Your voice can be heard, along with others, through Illinois Rural Partners. For more information, go to www.ruralpartners.org
Illinois Rural Partners is a member-driven forum that links individuals, businesses, organizations and communities with public and private resources to maximize the potential of rural Illinois.
WORKING LANDSCAPE ACTION PLAN
Investing in our Farm and Forest Future is the final report of the Vermont Working Landscape Partnership. It offers five recommendations to help reinvigorate the state’s rural economy:
• Build a major campaign to celebrate the distinctiveness of the working landscape that is Vermont.
• Target strategic investment through a Vermont Agriculture and Forest Products Development Fund.
• Designate and support “Working Lands.”
• Develop tax revenue to support working landscape enterprise development and conservation.
• Create a State Planning Office and activate the Development Cabinet.
The Vermont Council on Rural Development (VCRD) launched this broad-based partnership as a way to focus efforts to keep our farm and forest economy healthy and prosperous. Click HERE to read it online. For a print copy of the report, please contact VCRD at 802 223-6091 or email@example.com
Vermont Working Landscape Partnership Program
About Partners for Rural America
Our Mission & Goals
Partners for Rural America (PRA) exists to support the efforts of its member State Rural Development Councils
(SRDC’s), which are uniquely positioned:
To expand economic and social opportunities for America’s rural communities and their residents;
To promote equal treatment of rural America by government agencies and the private sector;