The Star Democrat

Rural communitie­s to come back quicker, stronger and better, say Summit speakers

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ANNAPOLIS — When more than 200 citizens, state and local government officials and community leaders gathered recently in Annapolis for the biennial Rural Summit two things were obvious — with COVID-19 measures in place attendees were more than ready to resume face to face engagement safely and rural Marylander­s feel they have what it takes not only to fully recover from the pandemic, but also to lead the state’s recovery efforts.

“I believe we have the opportunit­y to recover quicker than the urban areas of Maryland, and I need you to believe that too,” said John Hartline, Rural Maryland Council board chair, in his opening remarks. “I know you all are the reason that will happen because you work hard every day for your communitie­s.”

Hosted by RMC, the Rural Summit, titled “Redefining Resilience and Recovery,” featured numerous noteworthy national and statewide guest speakers, including Xochitl Torres Small, USDA Under Secretary for Rural Developmen­t,

Maryland Governor Larry Hogan, Maryland Comptrolle­r Peter Franchot, and Whitney Kimball Coe, director of National Programs at the Center for Rural Strategies, who championed the message of strength and leadership in rural communitie­s.

“We are in a great place to partner together,” said Xochitl Torres Small. “We’ve learned the hard way how much

we rely on collaborat­ion to do our work. It’s all about taking on new challenges and building new markets. One thing is for sure though when rural America succeeds, we all succeed.Whether we are feeding America or fueling America. We have been given a chance to write a happy ending.”

Perhaps Governor Hogan said it the best during his remarks on the opening day of the Summit, “‘Redefining Resilience and Recovery’ means thinking outside the box and working together to deliver real solutions to the problems we face,” said Hogan. “As we continue to move forward together, I have every confidence that not only will rural Maryland fully recover from this pandemic, but we are going to come back stronger and better than before.”

The Summit included 16 breakout sessions covering a variety of topics related to agricultur­e, aquacultur­e, and forestry, community developmen­t, economic developmen­t, and health care, as well two plenary sessions – one on broadband and a legislativ­e review which featured a panel of state legislator­s.

For many attendees the Summit

represente­d an important step in resuming traditiona­l public meetings and face-to-face collaborat­ion. “For many of our rural stakeholde­rs this Summit was their first large conference since 2019,” said RMC Executive Director Charlotte Davis.

“They were particular­ly enthusiast­ic about safely collaborat­ing face to face instead of using a virtual format. I have no doubt that the commitment to advancing equity for all Marylander­s is stronger now than ever before. And if their efforts over the past 18 months are any indication, they are more than ready to take a leadership role as we roll up

our sleeves to recover,” added Davis.

Upcoming RMC events include the legislativ­e luncheon on Jan. 28 and Rural Maryland Day on Feb. 10.

In 1994 the late Maryland Governor William Donald Schaefer signed an executive order to designate a “rural developmen­t council” for Maryland. One year later the council organized itself as the “FORVM for Rural Maryland” and was permanentl­y establishe­d by an act of the State legislatur­e. Today the Rural Maryland Council operates under the direction of a 40-member executive board in a

nonpartisa­n and nondiscrim­inatory manner.

It serves as the state’s federally designated rural developmen­t council and functions as a voice for rural Maryland, advocating for and helping rural communitie­s and businesses across the state to flourish and to gain equity

to its suburban and urban counterpar­ts.

For updates on all RMC events and activities, visit rural.maryland.gov, call 410-841-5772, email rmc.mda@maryland.gov or connect at facebook.com/RuralMaryl­and or @RuralMaryl­and on Twitter.

 ?? PHOTO BY EDWIN REMSBERG ?? John Hartline, Rural Maryland Council board chair, addresses stakeholde­rs at the recent Rural Summit titled “Redefining Resilience and Recovery.”
PHOTO BY EDWIN REMSBERG John Hartline, Rural Maryland Council board chair, addresses stakeholde­rs at the recent Rural Summit titled “Redefining Resilience and Recovery.”
 ?? PHOTO BY EDWIN REMSBERG ?? Xochitl Torres Small, USDA Under Secretary for Rural Developmen­t, speaks at the recent two-day biennial Rural Summit titled “Redefining Resilience and Recovery,” that took place in Annapolis.
PHOTO BY EDWIN REMSBERG Xochitl Torres Small, USDA Under Secretary for Rural Developmen­t, speaks at the recent two-day biennial Rural Summit titled “Redefining Resilience and Recovery,” that took place in Annapolis.
 ?? PHOTO BY EDWIN REMSBERG ?? Maryland Governor Larry Hogan delivers remarks on day one at the Rural Summit, hosted by the Rural Maryland Council.
PHOTO BY EDWIN REMSBERG Maryland Governor Larry Hogan delivers remarks on day one at the Rural Summit, hosted by the Rural Maryland Council.

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