Appalachian people aspire to a decent standard of living like all Americans. We can achieve this if we can find opportunities for employment and provide support for starting and growing sustainable businesses. We have many vibrant and innovative local economic initiatives in our communities. What policy is needed to sustain and grow our rural Central Appalachian region?
What does Rural Policy look like in today's world where only a fraction (less than 4%) of rural economies are based on agriculture, farming and fishing? This is a question that the W.K. Kellogg Foundation is exploring through its Food Systems and Rural Development programs. And this is the question asked by the Coalition for Rural America.
For the past year, with Kellogg Foundation support, the Central Appalachian Network (CAN), a multi-state network, has been engaged in learning about the communication tools and skills needed to play a role in local, state and regional policy development for rural areas. Seven Central Appalachian local policy projects have been developed by member non-profits to affect change.
CAN is now in a process to define and focus the regional policy network and agenda it will act on in 2004 and 2005.
With diminished economic opportunity, CAN thinks it is time for Appalachians to look to our neighbors for building healthy communities. It's entrepreneurs – our neighbors – who are building business and creating jobs in Appalachia today. Find out what they need to succeed.