By Edwin B. Smith
University of Mississippi
The Center for Population Studies at the University of Mississippi is co-hosting a statewide rural partner summit Wednesday (Nov. 9) in Cleveland.
The event, to be held at the Lyric Hotel West End from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., is part of the university’s leadership of the Tri-County North Delta Network under the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s new Rural Partners Network initiative. Led by USDA Rural Development, the RPN is an alliance of federal agencies and commissions that work directly with rural communities to expand prosperity through job creation, infrastructure development and community improvement.
“This meeting will bring together more than 75 state, federal and community partners to think through local challenges and opportunities related to transportation, infrastructure, broadband and workforce development,” said Anne Cafer, director of the Center for Population Studies. “Each community partner network will present highlights and opportunities in their community.”
The center is co-hosting the conference with Matthew Harrison, lead of the Greater Grenada-Lake District Partnership, and Hillary Boggs and Lara Bowman, leads from the Washington County Economic Alliance. The event is supported by the RPN staff and the office of Trina N. George, USDA Rural Development’s state director.
“The goal of the Rural Partners Network is to help our rural communities get direct access to federal agencies by bringing them straight to the people in these communities, and hopefully making it easier to access the resources we can provide,” George said. “This administration is very excited about the Rural Partners Network and the good that it can do, because when rural communities thrive, America thrives.”
The summit also will include networking and planning sessions to address transportation, infrastructure and workforce development needs.
One goal for the meeting is to strengthen regional partnerships and develop strategies for addressing water/sewer, broadband and public transportation concerns faced by rural communities across the state. Another priority is to collaborate with federal and state partners to provide support and funding for local initiatives related to these challenges.