Rural Development Conference Set For West Monroe Sept. 12-15

Deborah M. Tootle, Coolman, Denise  |  8/5/2005 2:10:33 AM

News Release Distributed 08/04/05

WEST MONROE – The LSU AgCenter is teaming up with the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Southern Rural Development Center at Mississippi State University to bring the Southern Institute for Rural Development conference to Louisiana Sept. 12-15.

This is the first time the conference has been held in Louisiana. Previous locations were Atlanta, Ga., and Fort Myers, Fla. The conference will be at the West Monroe Convention Center, located at 901 Ridge Ave.

The Southern Institute for Rural Development is designed for professionals who are, or wish to become, actively involved in rural development work at the local, multi-parish or multi-county, state or regional level, according to Dr. Deborah Tootle, an LSU AgCenter rural sociologist with the Department of Agricultural Economics and Agribusiness.

“Topics include job creation and innovation, education challenges, population diversity, as well as building on local resources and assets,” Tootle said. “In addition, participants will have the opportunity to network with others involved in rural development in the South.”

Tootle will speak on mapping community assets during the session dedicated to building stronger communities by using resources readily available.

Other guest speakers will discuss strategies for local economic development and fostering entrepreneurship, managing change in population diversity, strategies to use for building communities from within, expanding leadership, exploring e-commerce, and strategies for job creation.

Vaughn Grisham, director of the McLean Institute for Community Development, University of Mississippi, will talk about some success stories, while Mike Drabenstott, vice president and director of the Center for the Study of Rural America, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, will give a rural policy update.

Other guests include Michael B. Taylor, state director of the USDA’s Office of Rural Development; Dave Norris, mayor of West Monroe; David Mills, director of the J.W. Fanning Institute for Leadership at the University of Georgia; Bernie Mazyck, president and chief executive officer for the South Carolina Association of Community Development Corporations; and Lionel J. (Bo) Beaulieu, director of the Southern Rural Development Center at Mississippi State University.

Registration is limited to 150. There is a $125 registration fee, and the deadline is Aug. 26. For more information and how to register, go to


Contact: Deborah Tootle at (225) 578-2367 or

Writer: A. Denise Coolman at (318) 547-0921 or

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