Rural Economic Development Summit

Published 12:00 am Thursday, July 28, 2005

MARION-A Rural Economic Prosperity Summit will be held on the campus of Judson College in Marion on Friday July 29 from 8 a.m. until 3 p.m. at Jewett Hall. The event is designed to encourage development in the state’s Black Belt region.

Vaughn Grisham, director of the University of Mississippi’s McLean Institute for Community Development will be the guest speaker and will discuss formulas for achieving economic prosperity in rural areas during the summit.

Grisham has extensive experience in the area of economic studies for rural areas. He said he has been researching the subject for almost four decades and will present some of the success stories he has seen through the years.

“I have been working and studying rural communities for more

than thirty-five years,” Grisham said. “My focus is to share the success

stories from those communities around the United States.

I

will present a model, but not in an academic way, to

demonstrate the common elements of community development

from some of the best examples in the country.”

Grisham said he has observed a common problem in many rural areas all over the planet. He said in order to combat this problem people in the area must work together.

“A large percentage of small towns are losing population and

losing jobs,” Grisham said. “This is common not only to the US but

throughout the world.

It is possible to be both rural and

economically healthy, but it requires great effort by local

people.”

Grisham said only local people can address their own problems. He also said newspapers have a critical role on exercising leadership and assisting the locale to survive and prosper.

Margaret Bentley of Alabama Power is coordinating the workshop. The workshop will address the fact that the Black Belt, along with the delta region and the Mississippi River and Appalachia are some of the poorest areas in the U.S. and will be an especially difficult challenge.

Along with Grisham, other guest speakers will include state Treasurer Kay Ivey and state Sen. Hank Sanders, both of whom serve as co-chairs of the Governor’s Black Belt Action Commission.

The Delta Regional Authority as part of the Delta Leadership Institute will primarily fund Friday’s event. Other sponsors include the Alabama Association of Regional Councils, Alabama Power Co., the Governor’s Black belt Action Commission, Black Belt Community Foundation, Delta Regional Authority, Goodwyn Mills and Cawood and the Greene County Industrial Board.

For more information and to pre-register for this conference please call 1-866-468-2323. Lunch will be provided therefore, pre-registration is preferred. Further information is available a.