​The First Made in Rural America Regional Forum held in Washington County, Pa.

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On June 4, the first of five "Made in Rural America" Regional Forums was held in Canonsburg, Pa. These forums are part of the White House's Made in Rural America Exporting Initiative, which aims to bolster rural exports to spur rural economic development. The first regional forum, hosted by the Appalachian Regional Commission, provided a platform for local, state, and federal resources to showcase the roles exports play in helping rural businesses access new opportunities and ensure long-term sustainable growth.

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack, chair of the White House Rural Council, spoke to the group about the important role rural America plays in our country's success and the incredible potential ahead for rural exports. "1 percent of American businesses export to 95 percent of the world economy" said Secretary Vilsack. The Secretary went on to say "33,000 family farm operations provide 50 percent of our nation's food" to further underscore the importance and potential in our rural economy.

Doug McKalip, Senior Policy Advisor for Rural Affairs for the White House Domestic Policy Council was also a guest speaker. Like to Secretary Vilsack a fellow native Pennsylvanian Mr. McKalip provided a local touch to the forum tying the initiative to the need for the next "Interstate 79," speaking to the broader impact of the interstate system on the rural western Pennsylvania economy.

The forum also featured several panel discussions, including an afternoon session lead by local county commissioners and NACo members William McCarrier of Butler County, Pa. and Joe Spanik of Beaver County, Pa. This panel provided a local, regional/multi-county, and statewide point of view of exporting and emphasized the importance of engaging rural America in the global economy of the 21st century. Also on the panel was Amber Hancharick, Export Trade Specialist for the North Central Pennsylvania Regional Planning and Development Commission, and Pete O'Neill, Director for the Office of International Business Development at the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development.

During the forum, the Administration unveiled a new web portal for rural businesses considering export opportunities. The website,, allows U.S. businesses to search aggregated business-related information and resources from 24 federal agencies, from starting a business to financing to exporting. The Administration also unveiled details to be the second regional forum hosted by the Delta Regional Authority held on July 18 in Memphis, Tennessee.

Contact: Arthur Scott at or 202.942.4230

About Arthur Scott (Full Bio)

Associate Legislative Director – Political Outreach Manager

Arthur Scott serves as Associate Legislative Director for NACo’s Agriculture and Rural Affairs portfolio, lobbying on a broad range of issues facing rural counties. Arthur also serves as Political Outreach Manager for NACo developing and leveraging strategic partnerships to help address key county priorities in Congress and the Administration.

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