2019 Rural Action Caucus (RAC) Summit: Bridging the Economic Divide

Oct. 10, 2019 – Oct. 12, 2019
Essex County (Lake Placid), N.Y.
Contact Arthur Scott (202) 942-4230

Data-driven decisions – at all levels of government – are essential to addressing the breadth and depth of issues facing any community. Consequently, complete and accurate data is the keystone of truly effective public policy. The 2019 “Bridging the Economic Divide” Summit will focus on the intersection of 2020 Census data and the Federal Communication Commission’s national broadband maps. Collectively, these two aggregates will set the pace for federal investments in our nation’s critical infrastructure systems over the next decade.

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October 10

8:30am – 2:00pm

[OPTIONAL] Cascade Mountain Small Group Hike

The trailhead up Cascade Mountain is just steps away from the hotel. However, hikers will ascend at moderate grades, weaving between large rocks and ending on a bald peak overlooking the mountain range. In total, hikers will travel 2.4 miles, ascending 1,940 feet from base to peak. Hiking shoes and athletic clothing are suggested. Additionally, hikers should prepare for milder temperatures at the 4,098 feet summit. Email to sign up and meet in the hotel lobby.

1:00pm – 4:00pm

[INTIVE ONLY] Rural Impact County Challenge Action Learning Cohort Meeting

The National Association of Counties (NACo) and County Health Rankings & Roadmaps announced another team of rural county members focused on affordable housing to improve health and equity. This group will host their first in-person meeting to kick off this year’s cohort.

5:00pm – 7:00pm

Welcome Reception

October 11

8:00am – 9:00am

Networking Breakfast

9:00am – 10:30am

Making the 2020 Census Count
The majority of “hard-to-count” counties (79 percent) are rural – accounting for roughly 16 percent of all rural counties in the country. Unfortunately, undercounting critical communities could result in decreased federal assistance for rural counties. This session will examine the challenges and opportunities to ensuring complete and accurate counts in rural counties.

  • Hon. Lena Fowler, Supervisor, Coconino County, Arizona
  • Dr. Warren A. Brown, Director, Program on Applied Demographics, Cornell University

10:30am – 12:00pm

Breakout Session #1 (Census)
The first of two breakout sessions, this peer-led exercise will allow participants to share county-specific experiences with Census counts. Each group will be joined by a representative from a RAC Partner Organization to help identify challenges and opportunities for Census data collection to include in the year-end report.

  1. Tribal Outreach: This group will discuss the challenges and opportunites for engaging tribal populations during the 2020 census 
  2. County Special Populations: This group will examine the nuances to engaging special populations such as migrant/seasonal workers and college students
  3. Distrust/Misinformation: This small group will unpack the challenges to addressing apathy and reluctance to Census participation in the face of misinformation
  4. Census-Reliant Program Funding: This group will unpack the plethora of federal programs reliant upon accurate Census data
  5. Implications of High-Tech Data Collection: This group will discuss the proposed changes to the 2020 Census and the challenges and opportunities to digital census data collection
  6. Complete Count Committees: This group will discuss various approaches to complete count committees  

12:00pm – 1:00pm

Networking Lunch

  • Hon. Shaun Gillilland, Chairman, Essex County Board of Supervisors

1:00pm – 2:30pm

Mapping a Path Forward
Access to affordable high-speed internet has been widely recognized as essential to one’s ability to compete in today’s economy. Unfortunately, inaccurate data is severely limiting our ability to identify and allocate broadband resources to best leverage economic opportunities. This session will look at how counties can leverage mapping data to increase their economic competitiveness.

  • Chris Ritzo, Program Management & Community Lead, Measurement Labs
  • Dr. Theresa Pardo, Director, Center for Technology in Government, University of Albany
  • Hon. Cynthia Hyde, Supervisor, Town of Thurman, New York

2:30pm – 4:00pm

Breakout Session #2 (Broadband)
During this breakout session, each group will be joined by a representative from a RAC Partner Organization for a moderated discussion on the challenges and opportunities to connectivity and economic competitiveness.

  1. Justice and Public Safety: This group will discuss the importance of broadband in providing for the safety and welfare of a community
  2. Transportation/Infrastructure: This group will discuss the role of broadband in long-term transportation and infrastructure planning as well as the future of transportation
  3. Health and Human Services: This group will highlight the role of high-speed internet in providing critical health and human services in rural communities
  4. Education/Workforce Development: This small group will examine the importance of broadband for job training and skill development
  5. Future of Work/Emerging Sectors: This group will discuss how high-speed internet can assist rural economies in transition
  6. Economic Development: This group will underscore the impact broadband has on substantive economic development including tourism and arts & culture

6:00pm – 9:00pm


  • Special Guest Justin Olsen, Gold Medalist, Bobsled, 2010 Vancouver Olympics
October 12

8:00am – 9:00am

Networking Breakfast

  • Lauren Lyons, Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX)

9:00am – 12:00pm

Plenary Workshop (Bridging the Economic Divide Report)

Our discussions throughout the course of this summit will serve as a foundation for this plenary workshop which will bring together both narratives as we reconstruct our conversations and begin assembling a comprehensive report on Bridging the Economic Divide. This session will consist of lightning-round presentations from RAC Vice Chairs recapping the breakout sessions from the day before.



1:00pm – 4:00pm

[OPTIONAL] Olympic Complex Tour

Participants will be provided a boxed lunch as we take a guided behind-the-scenes tour of the Lake Placid Olympic Center. Tour will include a visit to the Herb Brooks Arena – home of the famous U.S. “Miracle on Ice” victory over the Soviet Union in 1980. Email to sign up.

NACo has negotiated reduced hotel rates for the symposium at the Crowne Plaza Lake Placid, but rates will expire on September 10, 2019 or when the block is sold out, whichever comes first. The rate is $224/night + tax (currently 12%) and requires a two-night minimum stay. Call the hotel directly at 518-523-2556, press option 0 and ask for the RAC Symposium room block to receive the group rate.

The Crowne Plaza offers complimentary self-parking and is about a two hour drive from the Albany International Airport (ALB), a 30 minute drive from the Adirondack Regional Airport (SLK) or a 50 minute drive from Clinton County owned and operated Plattsburgh International Airport (PBG.) Shuttle transportation can be arranged to and from the Albany airport by Trailways.

Essex County (Lake Placid), N.Y.

October 10-12, 2019

Essex County, Crowne Plaza Lake Placid


  • Associate Legislative Director – Political Outreach Manager  
    (202) 942-4230