Rural Arizona will be receiving much attention from national and local leaders this August with the Partners For Rural America (PRA) Annual Meeting coinciding with the annual Arizona Rural Policy Forum in Pinetop-Lakeside. The PRA Annual Meeting will take place Tuesday, August 9 through Thursday, August 11, and the Arizona Rural Policy Forum will occur Wednesday, August 10 through Friday, August 12.
Local First Arizona Foundation and Arizona Rural Development Council Director Kimber Lanning applied to host the PRA Annual Meeting two years ago, and Arizona was officially selected after she worked with regional economic developers to devise an educational tour of the Apache and Navajo county regions. “We are proud to be showcasing the great work being done in Arizona’s rural communities to a local and national audience,” said Lanning. “We are especially looking forward to bringing these leaders and advocates to Pinetop-Lakeside. Many people may know the area for its outdoor recreation activities and the natural beauty of the White Mountains, but we will also hear about a variety of community and economic development programs operating in the area that are unique to Arizona.”
PARTNERS FOR RURAL AMERICA ANNUAL MEETING
Partners for Rural America is the national organization of State Rural Development Councils. The State Rural Development Councils help local communities define their core assets and challenges, identify key long term priorities for development, collaborate to advance local initiatives and seek affordable alternatives. The work of Councils helps coordinate requests for federal and state funds and minimize regulatory redundancy. The Local First Arizona Foundation, which houses the Arizona Rural Development Council, is the State Rural Development Council for Arizona.
”State Rural Development Councils help local communities define their core assets and challenges, identify key long term priorities for development, collaborate to advance local initiatives and seek affordable alternatives all while encouraging and advancing local leadership,” said Jerry Townsend, Chair of the Partners for Rural America. “One of the strengths of these councils is that they provide an open, neutral environment and welcome all who wish to participate. Councils by their Farm Bill mandate are required to have board representation from federal, state and local government; Indian tribes; the private sector and the nonprofit community.”
Seventeen federally supported State Rural Development Councils from around the country have been invited to attend the PRA Annual Meeting. One day of the PRA Annual Meeting will be dedicated to a tour of the greater Pinetop-Lakeside area which will include stops to showcase economic and community prosperity in rural Arizona. The tour will highlight manufacturing, sustainable power generation, transportation, workforce development, regional collaboration, and tourism at a variety of stops and destinations. More information on this tour and the Annual Meeting will be posted at azrdc.org.
ARIZONA RURAL POLICY FORUM
Following the PRA Annual Meeting, the Arizona Rural Policy Forum will take place Wednesday, August 10, through Friday, August 12. The Arizona Rural Policy Forum connects rural economic development professionals, nonprofits, community leaders, business owners, and other rural stakeholders who are interested in sustaining rural communities. The event will provide an opportunity for skill-building, networking, building relationships and educating each other about the needs and services in rural Arizona. Activities include capacity-building sessions, receptions, workshops, and keynote presentations all of which culminate with the grant maker roundtables.
This year’s keynote speakers for the Arizona Rural Policy Forum will be Liz Sosa and Don Macke. Liz is the Director of Public Square Communities, an organization that facilitates citizen-led community development by engaging and mobilizing four primary sectors–business, education, human services, and government. Liz oversees business development, building strategic partnerships, and leads the organization’s housing pilot initiative. She also co-owns a gift shop in downtown Garden City in southwest Kansas, manages a digital sign company, and works with the Kansas Sampler Foundation’s PowerUp Movement to engage and connect 21- to 39-year-olds in rural communities throughout the state. Don Macke is a Co-Founder and Co-Director of the Center for Rural Entrepreneurship. The Center works throughout the United States and Canada supporting research, outreach, professional development and policy work related to rural entrepreneurship. Don has over 40 years of experience in the field of community economic development, and leads the Center’s Entrepreneurial Communities solution area. E Communities helps regions and communities grow more prosperous economies through entrepreneur-focused economic development.
In addition to the regular Forum programming, attendees are invited to participate in outside tours and events to see and experience actual examples of rural community and economic development and network with peers. On Wednesday, attendees can participate in a tour of the Sunrise Park Resort, a major attraction and economic generator for the Pinetop-Lakeside area. Guests will have the opportunity to see how the park is run and operated, as well as experience some of the recreational activities like the scenic chairlift ride. Cost to attend the tour is $32. The Rural Policy Forum will also be hosting dinners for attendees on Wednesday and Thursday night. Wednesday’s dinner is a Taste of Pinetop-Lakeside and will feature catered dishes from some of the area’s best restaurants. Thursday’s dinner will take place at the the famous Charley Clarke’s Steakhouse orchard, the 7th oldest Steakhouse Restaurant in Arizona and the oldest continuously operating in the White Mountains of Arizona. Cost to attend these dinners is $25 per person per dinner.
Early bird tickets are on sale now through June 30 for the Arizona Rural Policy Forum at azrdc.org. Early bird tickets are $99, and general admission tickets are $125 and will go on sale July 1. Registration includes breakfast and lunch for both Thursday and Friday, as well as access to all Forum programming, presentations, and workshops. Dinners and tours are available at additional cost. More information including speakers, Forum agenda, sponsorship, and more can be found at azrdc.org.
Thanks to sponsors of this year’s Rural Policy Forum: The Marley Foundation, Freeport McMoRan, APS, Arizona Community Foundation, The Phoenix Philanthropy Group, Arizona Lottery, Resolution Copper Mining, Arizona Association for Economic Development, Hensley Beverage Company, Tucson Electric Power, and National Bank of Arizona.