STATEHOUSE - Rep. Phyllis Pond (R-New Haven) was invited to and attended the 2009 Indiana Rural Caucus.
The goal of the Rural Caucus is to understand, identify and promote rural issues and serve as a voice for Indiana rural communities. Indiana's rural communities face difficult challenges such as demographic changes, job creation, capital access, infrastructure, and land preservation.
It's the Rural Caucus' mission to resolve these challenges with their resources (state agencies, private business, etc.).
"The agricultural industry is vital to the Indiana economy," said Rep. Pond. "It also supports a quality of life unmatched anywhere else in the world."
The leading issue of the caucus event was how stimulus money will be used towards rural communities and agriculture. The majority of Indiana's federal stimulus money will be used for infrastructure such as roads and highways. It is suggested that some of the stimulus money will be allocated for agricultural projects.
The Indiana Rural Caucus and state public universities are working together to accumulate a list of competitive grants for rural community projects. So far 8,000 competitive grants have been considered.
The Indiana Rural Caucus is calling for legislators to gather ideas for how to best use grant money and or stimulus money for rural projects.
Another issue discussed was broadband and high-speed internet availability in rural communities. It was universally understood that in order for economic growth these areas must have access to broadband service. Several state agencies are engaged in this.