Rural Missouri - December 2017 - 5
H A RT TO H E A RT
A new push for rural jobs
by Barry Hart | firstname.lastname@example.org
ne of my favorite roles during my career
in rural electriﬁcation has been working
to bring new jobs to my community as
an economic development professional.
Electric cooperatives realized early on there was no
point in building power lines if the people they were
built for didn't have jobs.
There's a second reason why electric cooperatives work hard on economic development. Providing service to a major commercial or industrial
member helps offset the low density common to
rural areas. Commercial and industrial accounts
add to the tax base, allowing rural communities to
improve the quality of life for residents, with better
schools, roads and essential services such as emergency responders and law enforcement.
That's why I was so happy to see our power supplier, Associated Electric Cooperative, launch a new
program this year called "Power4Progress." This
innovative program is designed to reinvigorate the
economic development program among Associated's
member systems in Missouri, Iowa and Oklahoma.
Associated's board showed its commitment to
the program by funding it for ﬁve years. It sent a
strong message to those in the trenches of job creation that Associated is serious about helping them
help their communities.
The need for such a program comes in the wake
of dire news for many rural counties. Recently Mark
Woodson, who is in charge of the economic development program at Associated, sent me a map that
showed 52 out of Missouri's 114 counties lost jobs
and population since 2007. Another 25 counties
gained population - but not jobs.
It's not surprising those two statistics follow
each other. As jobs leave rural areas, so too will
rural residents. Some may choose to make long
commutes to ﬁnd work, but for others that is not
an option. It's a downward spiral that electric
cooperatives want to stop.
The Power4Progress program is designed to
offer economic development professionals the tools
they need to help their communities right now.
Specialized training is already underway.
It includes "Basics of Site Selection,"
"Principles of Community Development,"
"Key Accounts Management" and "Building a Key Account Culture."
Lessons learned in these classes will show
those attending how to make their electric cooperative a valuable business partner in the effort to
attract new employers or to help existing businesses expand.
The program includes access to the Location One
Information System that can be used to list sites
and buildings available to prospective businesses.
Associated staff can consult with member systems
that are reaching out to new prospects and can also
offer research for business recruitment.
There's also help with one of the most valuable tools cooperatives have in their community
assistance toolbox: the Rural Economic Development Loan and Grant Program, commonly called
REDLGs. This USDA program funnels loans up to
$1 million and grants up to $300,000 into rural
projects through cooperatives.
Over the years, REDLGs has been used for a
number of vital projects in rural Missouri. Helping
member cooperatives with the daunting application
process will ensure it continues to put federal dollars where they can do the most good.
I am excited to see this new emphasis on job creation from our power supplier. I can't wait to see the
results as this program works to create jobs, retain
rural residents and improve the quality of life for all
electric cooperative members.
Hart is executive vice president of the Association
of Missouri Electric Cooperatives.
Empowering women entrepreneurs
by Wendy Doyle | email@example.com
his year's State of Entrepreneurship Report
by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation
found that while startup activity is expanding beyond Silicon Valley to places like St.
Louis and Kansas City, rural areas are getting left
behind. In 1977, more than 2 out of every 10 U.S.
startups were in rural areas. Today, this number is
just over 1 in every 10.
This steep decline in new business creation is a
real challenge for rural communities, and women
may be the key to solving it.
About one-third of all businesses in Missouri are
owned by women, and we know that entrepreneurship and self-employment are essential ways for
women to achieve ﬁnancial independence and pursue more ﬂexible, rewarding careers.
That's why, as an organization dedicated to
empowering women economically, Women's Foundation teamed up with researchers at the University of Missouri to study the barriers that can hold
women back and identify solutions to make it easier
for them to achieve their dreams.
We found that occupational licensing, the
requirements that govern professions ranging from
cosmetology to architecture, has expanded dramatically over the past ﬁve decades, and that women
are more likely to work in occupations that have
these requirements. And while these regulations are
intended to promote public health and safety, they
can actually restrict economic opportunity by making it harder for women to start new
businesses or enter new professions.
When it takes 20 times longer to
become a licensed cosmetologist than
an emergency medical technician, it's
time to re-evaluate how these licenses
are working - and not working - for
women and their families.
For example, moving across state
lines shouldn't mean losing your right
to practice your profession. But that's
exactly what happens to many women who relocate, only to ﬁnd out they
need to start from scratch to legally
perform their work.
New technologies have given consumers a vast new array of tools to
evaluate the quality of goods and services. Lawmakers should consider replacing some licenses with
less-burdensome alternatives like certiﬁcates and
private sector consumer reviews.
Instead of just automatically approving a new
regulation every time it's proposed, we're advocating for a law that would require each new licensing requirement to undergo a vigorous cost-beneﬁt
analysis and periodic reviews.
Finally, women continue to be underrepresented
on the boards and commissions that govern these
regulations, which means they don't have a voice in
Appointing more women, as our
Appointments Project is working to do,
will ensure women have a seat at the
table when these regulations are being
The good news is there's a growing
consensus - on both sides of the aisle
- on the need to tackle these occupational licensing barriers.
Here in Missouri, Gov. Eric Greitens
created a Boards and Commissions
Task Force, which recently recommended a set of reforms - informed
by our research - that would elimiDoyle
nate and consolidate a number of
occupational licensing boards and
reduce barriers facing women entrepreneurs.
Together, we can make it easier for women to
start and grow their businesses - and rev up rural
America's economy in the process.
Doyle is president and CEO of the Women's Foundation. More information on the organization can be
found at www.womens-foundation.org or by calling
DECEMBER 2017 | RURALMISSOURI.COOP
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Rural Missouri - December 2017
Rural Missouri - December 2017 - Intro
Rural Missouri - December 2017 - Cover1
Rural Missouri - December 2017 - Cover2
Rural Missouri - December 2017 - Contents
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Rural Missouri - December 2017 - 5
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