Thursday, June 11, 2015

Former president, Ag Secretary discuss at Clinton Global Initiative the challenges facing rural America

Rural America needs broadband internet, access to business loans, small-scale manufacturing jobs, small-business capital, young people and a vibrant community spirit, former President Bill Clinton and a panel of experts said Wednesday at the Clinton Global Initiative in Denver, Joey Bunch reports for The Denver Post. (Post photo by Andy Cross: Former President Bill Clinton, left, and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on Wednesday at the Clinton Global Initiative)

Clinton said at the event: "Anywhere you have people who are willing to go to work in the morning and have half good sense, I think you have to assume there are real economic opportunities there. You have to design almost boutique strategies to make them bloom."

Clinton and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack "agreed that private enterprise hasn't invested enough in sparsely populated communities, so government must step in to help spur economic development," Bunch writes. Vilsack said, "Government has been sort of the whipping boy/girl for people who are upset, angry, irritated, not seeing the benefits of government. This is an opportunity to showcase what it can do for people and how it can grow opportunity."

While broadband was the main topic of discussion, the panel "also discussed how tight lending practices spurred by the banking crisis of 2008 [have] made availability of loans especially tough for potential start-up businesses in rural areas, small towns and Indian reservations," Bunch writes.

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