Selma to host crucial talks

Published 10:36 pm Friday, August 12, 2011

With the recent changes in the economy, many rural communities are faced with financial dilemmas and are looking to Washington for help.

Throughout the month of August, members of the United States Department of Agriculture Rural Development and Delta Regional Authority will offer roundtables across the Black Belt — including Mississippi, Alabama, Louisiana and Arkansas, to offer answers to small, rural businesses to give them hope.

On Aug. 18, the group will make a stop in Selma to offer residents federal solutions. The “White House Rural Roundtable” will take place inside the Carl C. Morgan Convention Center from 1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.

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“Rural small businesses are the backbone of the Delta economy,” said DRA federal co-chairman Chris Masingill in a published statement. “While we have seen many economic bright spots, some communities are continuing to struggle. We need to … make sure rural communities have the resources they need to grow their business and create good-paying jobs.”

The Rural Council, Masingill said, invites the public to join in the discussion and hear the concerns of the rural community.

Selma Mayor George Evans said the event is a plus for Selma and he’s excited about change in the area.

“I think it’s wonderful,” Evans said. “The Delta Regional is coming to Selma to have a roundtable with citizens of Selma and the Black Belt … to address the needs of Selma, Dallas County and the Black Belt. He’s (Masingill) a wonderful guy, has a great personality and (he’s) interested in making a difference in Selma. He’s inspiring … I believe he’ll do the best he can.”

In June, President Barack Obama signed an executive order establishing the White House Rural Council to focus on policy initiatives for rural Americans and better leverage federal investments. The Council recently released a report entitled “Jobs and Economic Security for Rural America” that pinpoints five critical areas such as job creation and promoting economic growth, improving access to quality healthcare and education, fostering innovation, expanding outdoor opportunities and supporting veterans and military families.

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack said in a published statement that the report highlights the specific needs and unique opportunities found within rural America.

“It also presents vital strategies that can and will be used to seize those opportunities and tackle some of the toughest challenges facing our rural communities,” Vilsack said.

The report also showed how the administration provided more than $6.2 billion in financing to nearly 10,000 rural businesses to help them expand and grow and more than $5 billion in farm operating and ownership loans to help more than 35,000 small and medium sized operations. The Administration made significant investments in promoting innovation and by expanding broadband access to more than 7 million rural Americans including more than 350,000 rural businesses.

The roundtable is free of charge, but pre-event registration is required as space is limited. Send your name, title, organization, website, email, address and phone number to to register.
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