This Year’s Regards to Rural Features Four Tracks:

Revitalizing Rural Economies

The Pacific Northwest includes 85 diverse rural counties, and each is challenged by radical change in population and consumer preferences, technology, global markets, and infrastructure. Still, in many rural places business is flourishing. In these instances, traditional industry is restructuring and new industry emerging, bridging rural assets and urban markets to generate greater wealth for all. This track will take you inside a range of business models and success stories. You’ll learn about the benefits and barriers to operating in rural, the strategies to keep and grow these industries, and how community leaders can help.

Sessions Include:
An Entrepreneurial Ecosystem: What Is It? How Do You Build One?
Transforming Rural Economies with the WealthWorks Approach: Stories from the Field
Opportunities to Invest in Rural: The Rebirth of Traditional Rural-Based Sectors
Rural Economic Diversification and Innovation: The New Growth Sectors
Rural Development Through Land Stewardship
Reservation Capitalism: Economic Development in Indian Country

Rural Leadership Networks

Every day rural community leaders use skills to engage broader participation, bridge perceived differences, and foster connection to move to action on complex community issues. Participants of this track will engage interactively in sessions that will build upon their leadership skills to catalyze change in their communities, build community networks to facilitate connection, communicate across political differences, and engage all the voices in their communities that are essential to the discussions and decision-making. This track will give attendees the knowledge and tools to strengthen the skills, connectedness, and voices of people in rural places and increase the understanding of what it takes to bring us together and get things done.

Sessions Include:
Roadmap for Building Community Networks: Presented by a Network of Rural Community Builders
Participación de la Communidad
Catalytic Community Building: Assessment and Action!
Leading Across Our Political Divides
What Is This Community Building Thing?
Bridging Rural and Urban? Efforts to Connect Across Real and Perceived Divides, Geographic and Otherwise

Resources for Rural Communities

Rural communities face a complex set of unique challenges including youth outmigration, declining populations, and loss of jobs and economic opportunities. They face these issues in geographic isolation, with less connectivity, fewer per capita financial resources, and less political voice and influence. Participants who attend the Rural Resources track will explore innovative ways of garnering multiple forms of resources to support the issues, projects, and organizations that mean the most to them.

Sessions Include:
Align to Thrive: Philanthropy & Rural Prosperity
Creative Community Capital: Four Ways to Secure Funds for Building Your Economy

Elevating Rural Voices & Priorities

The Northwest stands at a momentous and significant historical precipice, and rural demands that our priorities and interests be at the forefront of state and regional discussions and decisions as we shape our region’s future. With economic growth, opportunity, and wealth continuing to concentrate in urban places, and as we move further into to an automated world, the future of rural hinges on several key factors that we aim to explore over the course of this track. Attendees will engage in conversations with rural and urban business, social, and political leaders on how to grow innovation, restore investments, and build toward priorities that result in increased rural vitality. In an era of rapid and often disruptive change, we aim to focus conversations and efforts around key topics including broadband, workforce development, the housing crisis, water resources, and the future of farms and ranches. With Portland and Vancouver as our backdrop, we will work with our urban friends to discuss key policy leverage points, identify opportunities for strategic investments, and build the business case for the new rural economy.

Sessions Include:
A Watershed Moment Cascading Forward: Economic and Ecologic Approaches to Water Management in the Northwest
Embracing Tomorrow’s Workforce: How Rural Communities Can Prepare Its Workforce for Tomorrow’s Jobs
Bring on the Broadband: Infrastructure in Rural
Navigating the Challenges of Rural Housing
The Future of Rural Farms, Ranches, & Businesses