USDA to host jobs, economic growth forum on February 26

USDA Rural Development State Director Jack Tarburton announced today that USDA will host a Jobs and Economic Growth Forum on Friday, February 26, 2010 at Dover Downs Hotel and Conference Center

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“This is an extension of the White House forum that was held in early December,” Tarburton said. “The focus is to generate ideas to create jobs and economic opportunities in Rural Delaware and provide input back to the White House and USDA.”

The Forum is a collaborative effort by USDA Rural Development and the Farm Service Agency. Participants will include U.S. Senator Tom Carper, Delaware Department of Agriculture Secretary Ed Kee, representatives from the Delaware Economic Development office, business owners, community members, state and local officials, non-profit organizations, economist and other interested parties.

The Forum format and panel discussions are as follows:

8:00 a.m. Opening Remarks

8:35 a.m. Agriculture and Processing

9:35 a.m. Banking and Finance

10:25 a.m. Infrastructure, Community Services, and Energy

11:15 a.m. Competitiveness, Emerging Industries, and Community Development

12:05 p.m. Open Mike Forum

12:30 p.m. Break

1:30 p.m. Retail and Tourism

2:20 p.m. Labor and Trade Associations

3:10 p.m. Open Mike Forum

3:45 p.m. Adjourn

The public is invited to attend all or a portion of the format. The Forum moderators will focus on the following questions:

Discussion Questions:

1. What parts of your local economy are working or thriving? What businesses and sectors are expanding and hiring?

2. What parts of your local economy are not working or thriving? What businesses and sectors have been hit the hardest? What are people struggling with the most?

3. What are the opportunities for growth in your community? What businesses and sectors seem poised to rebound? What do you see as the “jobs in the future”?

4. What are the obstacles to job creation in your community? What could make local businesses more likely to start hiring?

5. What other issues and ideas should the President consider?

6. Are there specific changes to USDA programs and regulations that could positively impact the development of businesses in Rural America or strengthen current businesses? What innovative ideas should USDA consider to increase opportunity in rural areas?

USDA Rural Development administers and manages more than 40 housing, business, and community infrastructure and facility programs as laid out by Congress. These programs are designed to improve the economic stability of rural communities, businesses, residents, and farmers and improve the quality of life in rural America. Last year, the agency returned more than $132 million to rural Delaware.

USDA’s Farm Services Agency works to increase economic opportunity and improve the quality of life for rural Americans. Some of the agency’s efforts include facilitating income support, disaster assistance and conservation programs, providing operating loans for the procurement of farm equipment, seed and fertilizer, as well as offering ownership loans to help new and veteran producers purchase a farm. FSA also works to procure various commodities to benefit low-income families through domestic food assistance programs.