State officials release plan to assist Louisiana's rural communities
BATON ROUGE - Gov. John Bel Edwards announced Wednesday (June 23) that the Advisory Council on Rural Revitalization had released its Strategic Plan Report.
In a news release issued the same day, the governor's office said the council was established by executive order in February of 2020. Its purpose was to identify the needs and issues facing Louisiana’s vital rural communities, as well as solutions to removing any barriers that prohibit them from being more productive, healthy and attractive places to live and work.
Gov. Edwards said, “Louisiana’s rural communities are the lifeblood of our state.Their natural resources feed and fuel the world, yet their citizens bear a disproportionate burden of poverty and lack of adequate access to healthcare, education, broadband and other essential needs."
The governor continued, "Our work to address these disparities has become even more urgent due to the COVID-19 pandemic, when access to testing, treatment and vaccinations can mean the difference between life and death. The strategic report from the Advisory Council on Rural Revitalization provides coordinated guidance on key issues that will provide the largest good for the greatest number of people in our rural regions.”
The council’s report identifies four key recommendations for improving quality of life in Louisiana’s rural regions: expanding broadband access across the state; improving infrastructure; developing and expanding workforce training and higher education opportunities; and maintaining and expanding agriculture centers in the state’s university systems.
Former state Sen. Noble Ellington, who serves as the executive director for the Office of Rural Development, said, “The Advisory Council on Rural Revitalization report provides a well-researched and developed plan that came together through participation by rural stakeholders, the Office of Rural Development and the Resilient Louisiana Commission."
Ellington continued, "Now, with these achievable objectives identified, Louisiana can execute focused work that provides the best outcomes possible for stakeholders in the state’s rural communities. Collaborating on identifying these issues has brought forward new ideas, approaches and tactics. Louisiana will continue to provide robust support for its rural communities which are clearly a critical element of our future success.”
Chaired by former state Sen. Ben Nevers, the Advisory Council is comprised of 37 key state and local stakeholders appointed by the governor.
The council was directed to focus on identifying the needs and solutions in eight areas: economic development, education, healthcare, infrastructure, clean water, agriculture and forestry, workforce development and broadband.
The council was divided into nine subcommittees, with the addition of the key issue of finance to address affordable housing and credit opportunities.
The strategic plan breaks down these focus areas into goals and identifiable objectives. The council sought to maximize its efforts by identifying and harnessing state, federal and private resources in new ways.
The complete Louisiana Governor’s Advisory Council on Rural Revitalization Strategic Plan Report can be found here.
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