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Conference Registration Open: Investing in Rural America with Keynote Anita Brown-Graham

Investing in Rural America Roanoke 2023 logo

How can small towns and rural communities get people off the sidelines and into the labor force? How can they build on their existing assets for economic development? And what does it take to attract and retain new residents? These are just a few of the questions we’ll explore during the Richmond Fed’s annual Investing in Rural America Conference this spring.

Registration opens today for the two-day event, which will be held in Roanoke, Virginia, April 11–12, 2023, at the historic Hotel Roanoke. The conference kicks off at 1 p.m. on April 11, when leading researchers in rural development will host a discussion about putting research into practice. Presenters will include Roberto Gallardo, director of the Purdue Center for Regional Development; Heather Stephens, director of the Regional Research Institute at West Virginia University; and Shannon M. Monnat, director of the Center for Policy Research, Lerner Chair in Public Health Promotion and Population Health, and professor of Sociology at Syracuse University. The first day will conclude with a reception in the hotel’s award-winning event space.

On day two, attendees will hear from keynote speaker Anita Brown-Graham, director of the ncIMPACT Initiative and the Gladys Hall Coates Distinguished Professor of Public Law and Government at the University of North Carolina’s School of Government. Breakout sessions will feature a mix of experts from throughout Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia and the Carolinas. The afternoon plenary session, moderated by Thomas Watson of Rural Support Partners, will highlight how leaders in Old Fort, North Carolina, are building regional partnerships to transform their town’s economy. View the full agenda.

“I see the challenges facing small towns as I travel throughout our region, but I also see lots of innovative solutions, and that's what we want to share," said Richmond Fed president Tom Barkin, who will deliver remarks on April 12. “This is a great opportunity to bring together community leaders, funders and policymakers to talk about what’s working and how we can scale these solutions.”

Additional speakers will include Heidi Binko, executive director and co-founder of the Just Transition Fund; Maggie Sauer, director of the North Carolina Office of Rural Health; Telly Tucker, president of the Institute for Advanced Learning and Research; Colleen Roberts, Public Information Office and Brand Manager, City of New Bern; and Brandon Dennison, CEO of Coalfield Economic Development Corporation.

There will also be a poster session on April 11 featuring successful development projects, with representatives on hand to answer questions and share best practices. Organizations in small towns or rural communities that have successful projects they’d like to showcase at the conference are invited to submit a proposal to the session.

“We're excited to spend another year learning from rural leaders about the creative policies and practices happening in our rural and small-town communities,” said Sonya Ravindranath Waddell, vice president and economist at the Richmond Fed. “Ensuring that all Americans have the opportunity to fully participate in the nation's economy requires this kind of conversation and collaboration.”

Interested individuals can register to attend one or both days of the program.

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