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Richmond Fed Hosts Investing in Rural America

The second annual Investing in Rural America Conference will be hosted by the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond on Oct. 8 and will include an impressive slate of professionals who'll share ideas and solutions for enhancing life in rural communities in the Fifth District.

Two facets are new this year:

  • The conference will be hosted virtually from noon to 4 p.m. EST, allowing interested business leaders, policymakers, funders and community advocates from around the nation to attend.
  • This year’s conference will be preceded by Rural America Week, a three-day sharing of digital content that will include pre-recorded panels and other information on HBCUs, rural health care and agriculture.

“Understanding the challenges and opportunities of the less prosperous parts of the Fifth District is a key part of fulfilling our mandate, and in our District much of those areas are rural small towns,” said Richmond Fed President Tom Barkin. “Though our nation is in the midst of an unprecedented crisis, we’ve shown throughout history that unprecedented change can turn into opportunities. And so this is an opportunity for these parts of our District to rewrite their endings — changing the story from one of fewer employers, fewer options and fewer amenities by capitalizing on innovations in telemedicine, telecommuting, online learning and broadband. Our Rural conference is focusing squarely on these issues and more.”

Richmond Fed Regional Economist Laura Ullrich is leading the conference planning team and is delighted that this year’s virtual event will allow nationally known experts to share insights and professionals far and wide to participate.

“We’re excited about the opportunity to raise our voice more broadly in this virtual environment. As researchers, we should always be paying attention to all parts of our District, and this is especially important during the COVID-19 pandemic,” Ullrich said, in reference to the Fifth District, which is comprised of Virginia, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, parts of West Virginia and Washington, D.C.  “Many of the issues in rural America that people have been talking about for a long time have been highlighted more during this crisis — access to health care, access to quality education and infrastructure.”

In addition to hearing from President Barkin and from Richmond Fed Executive Vice President and Director of Research Kartik Athreya, conference-goers will receive a keynote address from Scott Hamilton, president and CEO of the Golden LEAF Foundation, a North Carolina grant-making organization.

Conference participants can take part in Rural America Week by signing up to receive the Oct. 5–7 digital content when they register for the half-day conference.  
“There are a lot of exciting topics that we feel are important to explore, especially in light of COVID-19,” Ullrich said. “Receiving online content during Rural America Week is a great opportunity to be thinking about rural communities on more than just one day.”

Each day has a theme, as outlined below.

The Richmond Fed’s Rural America Week

  • October 5: Historically Black Colleges and Universities in the Rural South
  • October 6: Innovative Rural Health Funding Strategies
  • October 7: The State of Agriculture in the Fifth District and Beyond

Ullrich looks forward to virtually meeting attendees at the Oct. 8 conference and to receiving their feedback on the digital content provided during Rural America Week.

“I think anyone who is interested in rural communities, and in the Fifth District in particular, will find this conference, and Rural America Week, worthwhile.”

To register or learn more, visit the Investing in Rural America Conference registration page.

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