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Hotel Madison & Shenandoah Valley Conference Center
710 South Main Street
Harrisonburg, VA

October 2, 2019

  • Wednesday, October 2, 2019
    7:30 AM  -  8:00 AM
    Registration and Continental Breakfast
    8:00 AM  -  8:15 AM
    Welcome and Opening Remarks

    Tom Barkin, President, Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond

    What will it take to move the needle in rural communities? President Barkin will share an overview of four key themes identified by the Richmond Fed’s research: preparing people to enter the workforce; connecting workers to jobs; helping people overcome obstacles to labor force participation; and addressing informational and institutional gaps. While these are challenging problems, they are solvable
    by good policymaking, by markets, by local leaders and by rural residents themselves. 

    8:15 AM  -  9:00 AM
    Economic Perspectives and Challenges in Rural Communities
    Kartik Athreya, Director of Research, Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond

    Kartik will provide an overview of some aspects of rural-urban disparities and discuss opportunities for rural communities.
    9:00 AM  -  10:30 AM
    Connecting People to Jobs

    Community colleges and career and technical training play a major role in preparing the rural workforce for local jobs that match the needs of employers. Individuals may be unaware of opportunities in growing occupations and employers are not always well-connected to programs that are available locally. Opportunities exist for closer connections between students, programs, and employers. Panelists will share stories of successful initiatives and the building blocks that make them work as well as obstacles that were overcome.

    Melissa Lubin, Ph.D., Dean, Professional & Continuing Education, James Madison University (moderator)
    Andy Bradley, Duke Energy
    Clark Casteel, President & CEO, Danville Regional Foundation
    Glenn Dubois, Chancellor, Virginia Community College System
    Thad Harrill, Vice President, Isothermal Community College
    Duane Yoder, Garrett County Community Action Committee

    10:30 AM  -  12:00 PM
    Broadband: Connecting the Last Mile in Rural America

    Challenges persist in providing broadband to rural areas and at speeds fast enough for businesses, hospitals and schools. While many small towns have access to internet connectivity in downtown areas and in schools, libraries and government buildings, many households still lack access to adequate service. Funding is complicated and the “last mile” problem is expensive to solve. This session’s experts will address these challenges and describe how funding and public policies could help.

    Senator Emmett Hanger, Senate of Virginia (moderator)
    Harold Feld, Senior Vice President, Public Knowledge

    Roberto Gallardo, Assistant Director / Specialist, Purdue Center for Regional Development / Purdue Extension
    Karen Hanson, Manager, Partnerships/Interagency Affairs, NTIA/U.S. Department of Commerce
    Arthur Scott, Associate Legislative Director and Political Outreach Manager, National Association of Counties

    12:00 PM  -  1:30 PM
    Luncheon: What will it take to drive rural investment?

    This session will focus on some of the history and structural challenges that needed to be overcome, discuss ideas that support a different way of thinking about investment and what it will take to drive the level of investment into rural America that is up to the size of the challenges.


    Katharine Ferguson, Aspen Institute (moderator)
    Justin Maxson, Mary Reynolds Babcock Foundation
    Lisa Mensah, Opportunity Finance Network
    Bernie Mazyck, SC Association for Community Economic Development

    1:30 PM  -  3:00 PM
    Access to Capital and Community Absorption

    This session identifies the opportunities and barriers that rural communities face in obtaining the capital and investments needed to strengthen and grow. At the same time, it is critical for communities to effectively absorb and deploy capital, so panelists also explore the type of infrastructure needed in order to ensure there is sufficient community capacity to absorb the capital and investments once obtained.

    Bette Brand,  Administrator, USDA-Rural Development Rural (moderator)
    Donna Gambrell, Appalachian Community Capital
    Deb Markley, Senior Vice President, LOCUS Impact Investing
    Thomas Watson, Owner / Executive Director, Rural Support Partners

    3:00 PM  -  3:30 PM
    Closing and Wrap-up
    3:30 PM