Santee, S.C.,, Apr 30, 2012 -- Today Agriculture Under Secretary for Rural Development Dallas Tonsager addressed South Carolina State University’s Environmental Policy Institute on “growing rural economies.” This year’s theme for the Isaac W. Williams Lecture Series is “South Carolina’s Human and Natural Assets: Growing our Rural Economies.” The conference initiates a statewide dialogue which can foster the development of a comprehensive, sustainable, economic development plan for rural communities and wise stewardship of South Carolina’s land and water for future generations.
“This is a tremendous opportunity for South Carolina business and community development leaders to gain insight on how to develop a comprehensive strategic plan,” said Tonsager. We are working to help rural residents in South Carolina capitalize on available natural resources to improve the rural economy and provide benefits to rural residents. I commend South Carolina State University for taking the lead in this endeavor and continuing the passion of Isaac W. Williams in improving the quality of life of all citizens of South Carolina.”
Tonsager was joined by Congressman James E. Clyburn; Vernita F. Dore, USDA Rural Development South Carolina State Director; Dr. Reinhardt Brown, Director, Environmental Policy Institute; Dr. Rita J. Teal, Acting President, South Carolina State University; and Dr. Raymond Greenberg, President, Medical University of South Carolina at the Santee Conference Center.
The Environmental Policy Institute (EPI), which is housed at the James E. Clyburn University Transportation Center at South Carolina State University, was established through a grant provided by the U.S. Department of Energy/National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) in 2005. The EPI develops programs addressing economic development in South Carolina’s rural communities, and focuses on research and activities addressing the transportation of nuclear sources. In addition, the EPI provides research, outreach, training, education and technical assistance through a series of made-for-television dialogue and community leader’s institutes.
Isaac W. Williams was active in the NAACP as a youth and later president of the South Carolina Conference Youth Division and chairman of the NAACP National Youth Work Committee. Mr. Williams graduated from South Carolina State College with a degree in biology.
Founded in 1896 as the state's sole public college for black youth, South Carolina State University has played a key role in the education of African-Americans in the state and nation. As a land-grant institution, it struggled to provide agricultural and mechanical training to generations of black youngsters. Through its extension program, it sent farm and home demonstration agents into rural counties to provide knowledge and information to impoverished black farm families. A historically black institution, in 1971, the agricultural program was terminated and the college farm was transformed into a community recreation center. Today there are nearly 5000 students majoring in a wide range of programs that include agribusiness, accounting, art, English, and drama as well as fashion merchandising, physics, psychology, and political science.
Since taking office, President Obama's Administration has taken significant steps to improve the lives of rural Americans and has 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 active portfolio of more than $165 billion in affordable 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.