Portland, OR, Jun 18, 2012 -- An innovative, multi-lateral approach to regional economic development in the Northwest is getting national attention. Last week at the Regional Innovation in Rural America forum hosted by the White House Rural Council, Mid-Columbia Economic Development District (MCEDD) Director Amanda Hoey shared insights and lessons learned through her work with local community and business leaders in five Oregon and Washington counties.
Hoey was invited to provide insight on rural issues and best practices for economic revitalization on a regional scale. Among those listening were federal officials from the White House Domestic Policy Council, Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Economic Development Administration (EDA) and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). “There is a strong commitment to supporting regions that are collaborating together and doing the hard work of regional planning,” said Hoey.
Of the 36 featured guests providing direct feedback to administration officials, two traveled from Oregon. In addition to Hoey, Amanda Oborne from Ecotrust attended to discuss the Food Hub regional food marketing platform.
“Regional innovation is one of several topics President Obama is emphasizing to revitalize rural areas and ensure that rural communities can compete in the global economy,” said USDA Rural Development State Director Vicki Walker. “Here in Oregon, we have been working hard to advance a number of public-private partnerships that enhance both local and regional economies,” Walker said.
An example of this is the collaboration between USDA and MCEDD to bring together varied interests and organizations to take a wide-angle look at the shared economic development landscape spanning Oregon’s Hood River, Wasco and Sherman Counties, along with Skamania and Klickitat Counties in Washington. Sponsored through a USDA Rural Development training program called Stronger Economies Together (SET), the effort aims to help neighboring stakeholders and institutions identify new ways to leverage multiple local assets and opportunities for increased prosperity throughout the region.
At the White House event, Hoey shared this advice regarding comprehensive planning: “It is important to maintain updated, long-term regional strategies that include an expanded set of partners, including government entities as well as nonprofits and foundations with a mission and resources to invest in economic development. They will be crucial partners moving forward,” said Hoey.
As the Executive Director of MCEDD, Amanda Hoey serves a bi-state region in Oregon and Washington, promoting the growth of businesses, creation of family-wage jobs and diversification of the economic base through grant and loan programs and technical assistance. She also currently serves on the boards of the Riverfront Trail, Columbia Center for the Arts, and Rural Development Initiatives, Inc.
Regional Innovation in Rural America forum and the Stronger Economies Together (SET) initiative are part of the Obama Administration’s “We Can’t Wait” efforts to strengthen the economy, create jobs and support business growth. Since taking office, President Obama’s Administration has taken historic steps to improve the lives of rural Americans, put people back to work and build thriving economies in rural communities. From proposing the American Jobs Act to establishing the first-ever White House Rural Council – chaired by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack - the President is committed to a smarter use of existing Federal resources to foster sustainable economic prosperity and ensure the government is a strong partner for businesses, entrepreneurs and working families in rural communities.
USDA, through its Rural Development mission area, administers and manages housing, business and community infrastructure 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.
USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer and lender. To file a complaint of discrimination, write: USDA, Director, Office of Civil Rights, 1400 Independence Avenue, SW, Washington, DC 20250-9410 or call (800) 795-3272(voice), or (202) 720-6382 (TDD).
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