On Sept. 8 from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. EDT, in Washington, D.C., the Rural Development Innovation Group and the Aspen Institute Community Strategies Group will present a lunch panel highlighting how the savvy strategies of four rural and locally owned businesses and networks are making manufacturing work in America. The groups are both initiatives from the nonprofit, nonpartisan think tank The Aspen Institute.
The panel will be the fifth in a series of six in a series called America's Rural Opportunity. The series "invites policymakers, economic and community development practitioners, and business and philanthropic leaders to engage in real dialogue around advancing a rural opportunity agenda," according to the website. The panel will be moderated by Deb Markley, senior vice president for LOCUS Impact Investing and the co-director of the Center for Rural Entrepreneurship. The four businesses highlighted in the September panel are:
- Incubating Pathogens – and Community Enterprise: Microbiologics, based in St. Cloud, Minn., produces 900 strains of ready-to-use microorganisms for quality control testing in industries such as pharmaceuticals and more. The guest speaker will be Brad Goskowicz, CEO of Microbiologics.
- Toboggans to the Local (and Global) Rescue: Cascade Rescue in the Idaho panhandle manufactures rescue toboggans used by ski areas around the world. Their approach to hiring and developing talent is a potential model for other rural manufacturers facing workforce challenges. The guest speaker will be Dana Jordan, president and CEO of Cascade Rescue Co.
- From Threads to Fabric: New Trends in the Making: A unique collaboration is helping bring back textile manufacturing to western North Carolina. Guest speakers will be Molly Helmstreet, founder & general manager of Opportunity Threads, and Tanya Wade, intake administrator and project specialist at Carolina Textile District.
- Perspective from the Rural Development Innovation Group: Guest speaker John Molinaro is the president and CEO of the Appalachian Partnership for Economic Growth, an organization that collaborates with officials in Ohio's 32 Appalachian counties to encourage economic development. For 20 years he was vice president of the West Central Initiative, a community development foundation in Minnesota that helped double manufacturing employment in rural areas of the state.