Iowa Rural Council Picks Staff, Sets Summit Site and Date
GRINNELL, IOWA – The Iowa Rural Development Council (IRDC) has selected former USDA Rural Development state director Bill Menner to serve as its executive director and has announced it will hold its 2nd Rural Summit April 5-6, 2018, in Grinnell.
The Council, which has existed for more than 25 years as a rural-focused partnership of government agencies, schools, non-profits, ag associations and utilities, has not had a staff person since 2005. Menner, who served from 2007 until earlier this year as USDA Rural Development’s state director, launched his own consulting business in January. He also spent eight years as a rural economic developer in Poweshiek County.
“We have been working to expand the role of the IRDC for more than a year,” said Council Chair Sandy Ehrig. “Bill was very active while he was at USDA and he’s a perfect fit to help move the Rural Development Council forward.”
The IRDC has moved from a focus on information-sharing and partnership to more targeted rural advocacy, technical assistance and capacity building. The Council is part of the National Rural Development Partnership, which is a Farm Bill-authorized organization intended to support rural development efforts beyond those that USDA can provide on its own, but with USDA as a partner and contributor. Those efforts include Iowa’s first-ever Rural Summit last November in Jefferson attracted more than 300 individuals from 62 communities.
“The commitment to hold a second Summit demonstrates the overwhelmingly positive reactions we received following the Jefferson gathering,” said Ehrig, who leads the Iowa Farm Bureau’s ‘Renew Rural Iowa’ program. “And we believe the facilities in Grinnell will allow us to expand our capacity to allow many more communities to participate.”
The Rural Summit will once again target non-metro communities with populations under 20,000. The two-day session will focus on issues ranging from housing to broadband to community resources. Each participating community will be required to bring a delegation of three. More information can be requested by emailing iowaruralcouncil@gmailcom.