WATCH: Idaho Gov. Little revels in exchange of ideas at Reimagining the Rural West Initiative workshop

Gov. Brad Little welcomed the wealth of ideas being generated by the Reimagining the Rural West Initiative in his opening remarks at a workshop in Post Falls, Idaho.

"I worship at the altar of stealing good ideas from other states, so I am all about this Initiative’s goals," Gov. Little said of the Chairman’s Initiative of WGA Chair and North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum, which is examining challenges and opportunities in rural economic development, infrastructure and quality of life.

Topics of discussion at the workshop included strategies to upgrade energy efficiency in rural areas, engage new communities in the outdoor recreation industry, and increase access to remote telehealth services.

Watch videos of all sessions by using the links below.

WATCH: Opening Remarks by Idaho Gov. Brad Little: The Post Falls workshop of the Reimagining the Rural West Initiative began with remarks by the Governor of Idaho, who discussed the goals of the Initiative and how they resonate in Idaho.

WATCH: Rural Energy for the Future: Reliable, affordable energy is essential to rural prosperity. Improvements in energy efficiency and the use of new and innovative energy resources are keys to reducing electricity costs and meeting growing demand. Panelists discussed how investments in energy are improving the quality of life and fueling economic growth in rural communities. Moderator: Idaho Governor Brad Little. Panelists: Mark Brodziski, Deputy Administrator, Rural Business-Cooperative Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture; John Chatburn, Administrator, Idaho Governor’s Office of Energy and Mineral Resources; Mark Peters, Director, Idaho National Laboratory; Peter West, Director of Energy Programs, Energy Trust of Oregon.

WATCH: Natural Resource Management and Infrastructure Challenges: Responsible management of forests and rangelands relies on high-quality local infrastructure. The lack of sawmills, timber processing machinery, and adequate roads all reduce the business case for forest and rangeland management activities – from traditional timber sales to innovative forest thinning and rangeland management projects. Panelists discussed historical changes to natural resources markets, strategies to create markets supporting ecosystem-based goals, and federal programs that can aid rural infrastructure challenges. Moderator: Idaho Governor Brad Little. Panelists: Matt Krumenauer, Vice President Special Projects, U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities; Chelsea Pennick McIver, Research Analyst, Policy Analysis Group, University of Idaho; Cheryl Probert, Forest Supervisor, Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests, U.S. Forest Service; Tom Schultz, VP of Government Affairs, Idaho Forest Group.

WATCH: Rural Entrepreneurship: A Conversation with SBA: Small businesses and entrepreneurs are engines of economic revitalization in rural communities. Rural business owners, however, must contend with challenges such as physical isolation and limited access to capital. This session will explore how the U.S. Small Business Administration is deploying resources to prioritize rural development. Moderator: Jim Ogsbury, Executive Director, Western Governors’ Association. Panelists: George Brown, Assistant Administrator for Intergovernmental Affairs, U.S. Small Business Administration; Joel E. Nania, Manager Spokane Branch Office, U.S. Small Business Administration.

WATCH: Community Collaboration and Revitalization in North Idaho: Through the North Idaho Tourism Alliance (NITA), 12 communities are working together to capitalize on their region’s assets, including spectacular scenery, access to outdoor recreation and local history. Panelists discussed how their communities have evolved and how collaboration is helping to build a more vibrant economic future. Panelists: Stephanie Sims, Executive Director, International Selkirk Loop & NITA Board Chair; Colleen Rosson, Executive Director, Silver Valley Economic Development Corporation & NITA Board Vice Chair.

WATCH: Broadening the Outdoor Recreation Economy: Outdoor recreation draws people from urban areas to rural communities, bringing economic benefits and bridging the urban-rural divide. To grow the outdoor recreation economy, rural communities need infrastructure, workforce, and businesses to support visitors and local residents. This panel explored how different organizations are working to build and strengthen recreation economies. Moderator: Jim Ogsbury, Executive Director, Western Governors’ Association Panelists: Lindsey Shirley, University Outreach & Engagement Associate Provost, Oregon State University Extension Service; Jorge Guzmán, Founder and Executive Director, Vive NW; Tara McKee, Program Manager, Utah Office of Outdoor Recreation; Joe Alexander, Region 1 Director of Recreation, Minerals, Lands, Heritage, and Wilderness, U.S. Forest Service.

WATCH: Cooperative Models Across the Rural West: Cooperative ownership and funding systems support local food systems, infrastructure assets, housing initiatives and a host of other critical efforts in the rural West. Panelists will discuss how cooperative models can support diverse rural development goals and examine how federal and state policies influence cooperative efforts. Moderator: Jim Ogsbury, Executive Director, Western Governors’ Association. Panelists: Lori Capouch, Rural Development Director, North Dakota Association of Rural Electric Cooperatives; Tim Freeburg, Board Member, Pacific Northwest Farmers Cooperative; Kate LaTour, Government Relations Manager, National Cooperative Business Association; Tim O’Connell, West Region Coordinator, Rural Development Innovation Center, U.S. Department of Agriculture.

WATCH: Expanding Telehealth Services: Telehealth applications help rural residents access high-quality and cost-effective health care. The creation of effective telehealth systems, however, relies on reliable broadband connectivity and access to telehealth communications technology. This panel examined practical barriers to creating remote-access health care options and highlighted policy opportunities that can help accelerate telehealth offerings in rural areas. Moderator: Jim Ogsbury, Executive Director, Western Governors’ Association. Joan Connell, MD MPH FAAP, Field Medical Officer, North Dakota Department of Health & Pediatrician, UND Center for Family Medicine; Rex Force, Vice President for Health Sciences, Idaho State University-Kasiska Division of Health Sciences; Krista Stadler, Senior Director of Telehealth Services, St. Luke’s Health System; Jennifer Stoll, Executive Vice President of Government Relations and Public Affairs, OCHIN.

Watch previous Initiative workshops in Fargo and Santa Fe here.

For more information on the WGA Chairman’s Initiative, please contact WGA Policy Advisor Lauren DeNinno at (720) 897-4536 or [email protected]. To support the Initiative, please contact WGA Director of Development, Sarah Olsen at (720) 897-4540 or [email protected]. 

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