- Policy Platforms
The challenges that states face in diversifying local economies, closing the digital divide, training workers for the jobs of the future, expanding healthcare access, and modernizing infrastructure are closely intertwined. It is increasingly clear that the most effective solutions involve a systemic approach, cutting across sectors to find efficiencies and leverage resources. The Western Prosperity Roundtable is focused on addressing these capacity challenges to equip western communities to undertake locally led community and economic development efforts.
The west has undergone extraordinary growth in recent years, presenting challenges and opportunities for western communities. The annual 2023 Western Prosperity Roundtable, hosted in Bozeman by Governor Greg Gianforte, convened community members, policymakers, and experts to discuss strategies for strengthening community resources and ensuring smart and sustainable development to effectively manage the growing West.
Panels explored the interconnected and often compounding resource constraints across human, physical, and financial dimensions and the ways in which to address them.
This panel discussion focused on ways to strengthen the cybersecurity talent pipeline and build a sufficient and sustainable workforce as cybersecurity threats become more complex and widespread. It also examined critical needs in training and education and explored how the public and private sectors are working together to fill those gaps.
Diversifying the Rural Economy
Not every business needs to be in the same mold to contribute to the success of a rural community. This episode focuses on how a variety of different business structures can provide stability to their respective communities and how rural areas can use these models to strengthen their economies.
Healthcare Innovations in the West
Rural communities across the western region are working to bolster healthcare access and overcome barriers to providing care. WGA Policy Advisor Laura Cutlip talks with the leader of a health NGO and the director of a hospital’s telehealth service to learn what’s next.
Technology for an Inclusive Workforce
Technologies with universal design and assistive technologies have increased opportunities for workers with disabilities and revolutionized everything from office to factory work. To learn more about some of these developments and how their adoption can be accelerated through policy, WGA Policy Associate Lauren Cloward spoke with experts about how advancements will help build fully accessible and inclusive workplaces that benefit all workers, not just those with disabilities.
An Inclusive Economic Recovery for All Americans
COVID-19 disproportionately impacted people with disabilities and changed the work landscape in ways that present challenges and opportunities for disability employment. WGA Policy Associate Lauren Cloward spoke with experts about ideas to ensure an economic recovery that includes all Americans.
Electric Vehicles in Rural Areas
Consumer ownership of EVs is expanding across the West, but rural citizens face particular challenges owning and operating the vehicles. In this episode, WGA Policy Advisor Kevin Moss speaks with thought leaders in western states about barriers, and solutions, to more ubiquitous adoption of EVs in rural areas, including rural industries such as farming and ranching.
Bridging the Disability Employment Gap
To celebrate the 75th anniversary of National Disability Employment Awareness Month, WGA Policy Associate Lauren Cloward spoke with an expert panel about the Work Matters policy framework, which serves as a repository of best practices for improving disability employment, and how it’s being used to achieve workforce inclusivity.
The Next Generation of Rural
WGA Policy Advisor Laura Cutlip leads a conversation about the importance of listening to young people during the economic development process and exploring how rural youth can shape their communities for decades to come.
Reimagining the Rural Narrative
This episode features WGA Policy Advisor Laura Cutlip in conversation with Ben Winchester, a rural sociologist from the University of Minnesota Center for Community Vitality; and Jennifer Groth, the Policy and Partnerships Manager at Rural Development Initiatives. They discuss ways to rewrite the predominantly negative narrative that often surrounds rural communities.
A Sense of Place
This episode features WGA Policy Advisor Laura Cutlip talking with state and local experts about how developing a “sense of place” is an important step in reinventing rural communities and their economies, as well as how rural community leaders can capitalize on local assets to create environments where people want to live, work and play.
Reimagining the Rural West Special Report
This episode shares the findings and insights of the Reimagining the Rural West Initiative of North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum. The Special Report offered more than a dozen policy recommendations for attracting workforce and building community assets to improve quality of life that includes expanding rural broadband access and strengthening local leadership.
Reimagining the Rural West Kickoff
WGA Policy Advisor Laura Cutlip talks with North Dakota Gov. Burgum about why he chose Reimagining the Rural West as his WGA initiative. He explained how being from Arthur, North Dakota, a town of 347 people, helped him assess the challenges and opportunities in rural economic development, infrastructure and quality of life in the West.
WGA Executive Director Jim Ogsbury, in an essay published by Route Fifty, outlined the ongoing work of Western Governors to expand broadband access by lobbying the federal government for improved broadband coverage maps, flexible funding strategies for schools and libraries, faster permitting for infrastructure deployment, and tribal connectivity.
In comments to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Western Governors requested that officials with the Rural Utilities Service recognize that the current definition of broadband (25/3 Mbps) does not correspond with the requisite download and upload speeds for many business, education, and health care applications. They also expressed a desire to provide recommendations on the connectivity speeds.