Lincoln, Nebraska, Jul 07, 2011 -- Yesterday, Lance Morgan of Winnebago, Nebraska and Mark Timm of Ithaca, Nebraska were at the White House for a meeting they were asked to participate in with President Obama, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, the President's Domestic Policy Adviser Melody Barnes and leaders from rural communities across the country for the White House Rural Champions of Change event.
"It was a real honor to meet President Obama and hear about his commitment to Rural America,” said Morgan “ The Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska has made great strides in developing its community and it is a great example of turning a rural community into a regional economic engine."
Morgan and Timm are among 18 people from 15 different states that were invited to share their ideas directly with the Obama Administration about how to strengthen rural communities and promote economic growth.
Morgan was selected because of his leadership in working to build and expand upon business development and strengthening the local economy in Dakota and Thurston counties.
Timm was selected because of his concern about the environment and dependence on foreign oil. He looked at reducing his horse barn’s carbon footprint and was assisted by USDA Rural Development’s Rural Energy for America Program-Section 9007 for solar and wind equipment.
This week the White House Champions of Change focus is on farmers, ranchers and rural residents who are making a positive impact in their communities. Champions of Change is a White House initiative that recognizes ordinary Americans who are accomplishing extraordinary things in their communities to out-innovate, out-educate, and out-build the rest of the world. The administration acknowledges that the best ideas come directly from the American people, and on a weekly basis a Champions of Change roundtable is held to spotlight some of the top ideas that are making change a reality across the country.
Yesterday’s event is part of a series of meetings that are being held across the country this summer as part of the White House Rural Council (WHRC) and the White House Business Council to coordinate programs across government and encourage public-private partnerships to improve economic conditions, quality of life and create jobs in rural communities.
In June, President Obama signed an Executive Order establishing the first WHRC chaired by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. The Council will provide recommendations for investment in rural areas and will coordinate Federal engagement with a variety of rural stakeholders, including agricultural organizations, small businesses, and state, local, and tribal governments.
Since taking office, President Obama and his Administration have taken significant steps to improve the lives of rural Americans and have provided broad support for rural communities. The Obama Administration has set goals of modernizing infrastructure by providing broadband access to 10 million Americans, expanding educational opportunities for students in rural areas, and providing affordable health care. In the long term, these unparalleled rural investments will help ensure that America’s rural communities are repopulating, self-sustaining, and thriving economically.
USDA, through its Rural Development mission area, administers and manages housing, business and community infrastructure and facility programs through a national network of state and local offices. Rural Development has an existing portfolio of more than $150 billion in loans and loan guarantees. These programs are designed to improve the economic stability of rural communities, businesses, residents, farmers and ranchers and improve the quality of life in rural America.