Talent & Prosperity for ALL
Our team at the Agriculture & Natural Resource Center of Excellence (ANR COE), made up of Director Lindsey Williams and Coordinator Ceana Pacheco attended each of four listening sessions, hosted by the Workforce Training and Education Coordinating Board’s (Workforce Board) Rural Community Vitality Listening Forums. These listening sessions were held in Toppenish, Aberdeen, Colville, and Quincy. The Workforce Board is developing a strategic plan for unlocking Washington’s workforce potential, called Talent and Prosperity for ALL. This initiative intends to help disperse the flow of economic prosperity to ensure all communities across Washington State are supported and uplifted towards economic vitality, stemming from workforce development policies. These forums were a step in opening dialog about what is working and what is not for people and their communities – discussing the various systematic challenges from aging infrastructure to a lack of both health care coverage and broadband connection.
Stakeholders from business, industry, labor, and education convened to voice their hopes and concerns, and to help the Workforce Board identify current rural community needs as they develop strategies for increasing rural economic vitality across the state. The fate of our rural and urban communities alike are intertwined by economic and social factors that shape our community values and lifestyles – often through the exchange of goods and services. There are systematic challenges confronting rural Washington; a call to action in shaping “rural proof policies” has been voiced, but not at the expense of urban Washington. Developing a more in-depth understanding of the social and economic issues may help spearhead a more equitable policy approach to help revive rural Washington’s economic vitality –a model that could serve the nation.
These four rural listening forums gave the Workforce Board space to capture ideas from stakeholders, and integrate those ideas into a report that will be handed to federal policymakers in Spring of 2020 for their review and approval. The Workforce Board will be submitting all of their findings on their website –click link to view Rural Community Vitality Forums Insights.