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October 30, 2013
Media Contacts: 
Amanda M. Richardson, 501-912-5722,
Heather Hartley, 202-720-9065, 

NEWS: Administration Officials, Private Sector, Thought Leaders Convene to Discuss Wealth Creation in Rural America

LITTLE ROCK, AR - On Wednesday, October 30, 2013, Agriculture Secretary and White House Rural Council Chair Tom Vilsack met in Little Rock, AR with Delta Regional Authority and Aspen Institute for Rooting Wealth that Sticks: a one-day forum aimed at highlighting what’s working in rural America to fuel regional wealth. The forum convened a gathering of more than 300 entrepreneurs, community leaders, economic development practitioners, state and federal policy makers, and funders representing over 150 organizations.

“There is tremendous potential across the nation to create new wealth and grow the economy in rural areas, and today’s forum brings together folks who are committed to that effort,” said Vilsack. “I’m excited that so many from the Delta region are ready to partner together and undertake the work necessary to create strong regional economies and build ladders of opportunity – all of which will benefit folks who are working hard toward the American dream.”

Rooting Wealth that Sticks highlighted current and emerging economic development partnerships that are both increasing regional wealth and self-reliance. Practitioners from inside and outside the Delta profiled a range of stories about current and emerging economic development partnerships that:

  • Build jobs and business success;
  • Strengthen key sectors – existing and emerging;
  • Produce better livelihoods and upward mobility; and
  • Benefit low-income rural people, places and firms.
“Rural businesses and industries are the backbone of the Delta economy,” said DRA Federal Co-Chairman Chris Masingill. "In order to succeed in building our rural communities and creating jobs we have to utilize all our resources and work together to use them appropriately and efficiently. Today’s forum allowed our rural communities to exchange recipes for success so that we can continue to grow the Delta economy and create good-paying jobs right here in Rural America.”

“Robust economies depend on working regions – and on strengthening the ties that already bind rural and urban America,” said Aspen Institute Executive Vice President Elliot Gerson. “In so many critical sectors – energy, food, manufacturing, tourism and more – we can bring more underutilized assets into productive use in ways that will make our regional and national economy more resilient, and that boost livelihoods for low-income people, places and firms.”  

Throughout the day, participants organized constructive conversations about the principles and approaches used in the highlighted “wealth-creation value chain” partnerships and how to apply them to their work in other sectors or regions. Leaders also identified policy opportunities and changes at the local, state and federal levels that can help advance more wealth-creation partnerships —including ideas that Secretary Vilsack and Chairman Masingill can share with the White House Rural Council and Congress.


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