(Flagstaff, Arizona—August 22, 2013) The Copper Corridor Economic Development Coalition (CCEDC) and the Northern Arizona Council of Governments (NACOG) have been selected to participate in a Forum on Regional Innovation in Rural America, which will take place September 18-19 in Washington, D.C.
The forum is organized by the White House Rural Council and the National Association of Development Organizations (NADO) in conjunction with the United States Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development (RD) agency.
“This Forum will convene some of the nation’s top leaders in rural regional development to share ideas and learn from one another,” said Stephens. “We were delighted that both of our nominees from Arizona were selected.”
According to Doug O’Brien, Acting Under Secretary for USDA Rural Development, 40-50 participants have been invited to the Forum. They will work closely with folks from other regions to discuss key challenges and opportunities affecting economic development in rural America.
“It’s a great idea to bring together the most innovative thinkers on rural regional development to share ideas,” said Stephens. “Both the Copper Corridor and NACOG have had a positive impact on development in their regions here in Arizona. They will be able to share those successes and at the same time absorb new ideas and strategies that have worked in other regions.”
The Copper Corridor Economic Development Coalition (CCEDC) formed as a cooperative economic effort to bring incorporated and unincorporated rural Pinal County communities together in a regional effort for mutual sustainable prosperity. According to Michael Carnes, chairman of CCEDC, their efforts include tourism development, through such projects as the Mobile Visitors Center and the Ore Cart Trail; advocacy, through participation in several economic development organizations including USDA and the Central Arizona Association of Governments (CAAG); and entrepreneurial development, through their Business Success Center.
Teri Drew, Regional Director for NACOG, described the work of the organization as 1) solving common problems, 2) transcending geographical boundaries, and 3) improving local communities, adding that the Council works together to address similar issues faced by the cities and towns within their borders. NACOG also administers the Economic Development District (EDD) for northern Arizona, which comprises 24 communities.
The Copper Corridor and NACOG have worked with USDA Rural Development in Arizona on regional development projects and programs, including participating in the Stronger Economies Together (SET) training. Both have in the past been successful applicants for competitive grants from USDA Rural Development.
In 2011, the Copper Corridor competed for and was awarded an RBEG for Business Success Centers.
In partnership with the Arizona Commerce Authority and Yavapai County Local Workforce Investment Board, NACOG used an USDA RD Rural Business Enterprise Grant to help develop and implement Business Assistance Centers in the area.
According to Bill Bolin, who is an active partner in both regions, NACOG this week received news that an $84,664 RBEG was approved that will actually serve both regions. Rural Development funds will be used to develop a Resource Center Connection to provide resources for implementing business centers for entrepreneurship development in rural Arizona communities. Funds will also be used to increase broadband capacity in these areas and to continue operation of three existing business centers. The project is expected to create 30 jobs. Apache, Navajo, Coconino, Yavapai, Pinal and Gila Counties will all be served.
Last year in rural Arizona, USDA RD invested over $400,000,000 for housing, community facilities, business and community development, water and wastewater, utilities, and telecommunications in some of the state’s hardest hit areas.