Reaching Out to Rural Communities

Ed. Note: Champions of Change is a weekly initiative to highlight Americans who are making an impact in their communities and helping our country rise to meet the many challenges of the 21st century.

This past Wednesday, July 6, 2011, I was honored as a Champion of Change, allowing me to join with other rural community representatives, Secretary of Agriculture, and White House officials.

There were representatives from farms, tribal communities, community colleges, small businesses, and even a bio fuel producer. We had a round table discussion of what each had done in their community and policy recommendations for improvements in rural communities. These recommendations included simplifying grants, expanding available credit, and to expanding educational opportunities in rural communities.

As a Town Manager of a small rural town I know the difficulties faced in our small communities. Our communities’ infrastructures are at their life expectancy and we are faced with the cost of replacement. I was nominated because of the challenging and innovative work I did with the USDA in refinancing an old debt and getting more grant than loan monies for my communities’ Wastewater Improvement Project. I have also worked with the CDBG, EDA, Otted, and other local and state grants for wastewater, water, roads, and sidewalk improvements. There is much more to be done.

President Obama thanked us all for coming and for the innovative hard work we put into our communities. He believes strong, sustainable rural communities are essential to winning the future. I am so glad that the President is reaching out to our rural communities. Communication is the start of change!

Linda Roberson is the Town Manager and Finance Director of Zolfo Springs, a very small rural town in Hardee County, Florida.

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