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White House Rural Council Gives ARC New Opportunities, ARC Federal Co-Chair Says

June 2011


WASHINGTON, June 10, 2011—The Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) participated yesterday in the inaugural meeting of the new White House Rural Council, established by an executive order of President Barack Obama to strengthen rural communities.

Chaired by U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, the council will coordinate programs across government to encourage public-private partnerships to promote further economic prosperity and quality of life in rural communities nationwide. It will make recommendations for investment in rural areas and will coordinate federal engagement with a variety of rural stakeholders, including agricultural organizations, small businesses, and state, local, and tribal governments.

ARC Federal Co-Chair Earl F. Gohl, who represented the Commission at the meeting, said, "Having a seat at the table of the White House Rural Council provides the Appalachian Regional Commission with a great opportunity to work with federal agencies and White House offices to pursue job creation for Appalachia as well as share ARC's experience in engaging with our partners to create opportunity throughout the Region. The council will strengthen the work we are already doing with ten other federal agencies through the Appalachian Regional Development Initiative to ensure that Appalachia receives its full share of the federal funding, resources, and technical assistance that are available."

"Rural America makes significant contributions to the security, prosperity, and economic strength of our country," said Vilsack. "The rural council announced by President Obama shows his continued focus on promoting economic opportunity, creating jobs, and enhancing the quality of life for those who live in rural America. Together with the rest of the Obama administration, USDA has worked to support families and businesses in rural communities so that their success will pay dividends for all Americans."

In the coming months, the White House Rural Council will focus on job creation and economic development by increasing the flow of capital to rural areas, promoting innovation, expanding digital and physical networks, and celebrating opportunity through America's natural resources.

Twenty-six percent of the counties in the Appalachian Region are rural, and another 40 percent are non-metropolitan, according to the USDA Economic Research Service.