This Year’s Regards to Rural Features Four Tracks:

Revitalizing Rural Economies

The rural Pacific Northwest includes 85 diverse rural counties with different histories, conditions, and economic futures. Each is challenged by radical change in population and consumer preferences, technology, global markets, and infrastructure. Yet business is flourishing in many rural places where traditional industry is restructuring and new industry emerging, both coupling rural assets and urban markets to generate greater wealth for all. This track will take you inside the business models and success stories of high functioning, as well as start-up, rural enterprise. You’ll learn about the benefits and barriers to operating in rural, the opportunities to keep and grow these industries, and what community leaders can do to help.

Sessions Include:
Clues to Creating Entrepreneurial Success
Transforming Rural Economies with Urban Market Demand
Opportunities to Invest in Rural: The Rebirth of Traditional Rural-Based Sectors
Rural Economic Diversification and Innovation: The New Growth Sectors

Rural Leadership Networks

Sessions Include:
Roadmap for Building Community Networks: Presented by a Network of Rural Community Builders
Participación de la Communidad
The Secret Sauce for Catalytic Community Building

Resources for Rural Communities

Sessions Include:
Align to Thrive: Philanthropy & Rural Prosperity
Rural Community Shark Tank
21st Century Forests
#WeAreRural: Perceptions of People and Economies in Rural Places

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