OECD – Presentation by Charles Fluharty- June 20, 2015 Increasing Citizen Engagement and Trust: The Shaping Our Appalachian Region (SOAR) Model

MEMPHIS, TN, May 19 2015 – Today, leaders from 34 countries gathered in Memphis for the 10th Annual Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Rural Development Conference to discuss international strategies to address rural development in the 21st century, including creating jobs, building infrastructure, expanding access to health care, and making diversified rural investments. The theme of this year’s conference ‘National Prosperity through Modern Rural Policy: Competitiveness and Well-Being in Rural Regions’ engages the world’s leading policy officials, international experts, and representatives from the private sector to discuss how modern policies can help rural regions reach their full economic potential, support national growth and be globally competitive.U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack leads the American delegation on behalf of the Obama Administration. OECD Deputy Secretary-General Mari Kiviniemi leads the delegation from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. The Conference is made possible with the support of the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency and Mexico’s Secretariat for Agrarian, Territorial and Urban Development. The Delta Regional Authority is providing additional support and special events for conference participants.”Rural communities are critical for our economic future,” said Secretary Vilsack. “We need to implement strong policies and investment strategies that unlock the potential of economic growth and an improved quality of life for rural children and families. This includes partnerships to promote job growth, access to health care, and quality education. Building strong rural communities are an international challenge with local solutions.””We need to get rural policies right and adapt them to new challenges and opportunities,” said OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría. “Rural areas are home to one-quarter of the population of OECD countries and are a critical source of food, energy, environmental resources and human capital, as well as a growing source of manufacturing and service-sector production. Businesses that we once thought could only thrive in and around large cities can now prosper in rural environments. Future policies must reflect that reality to better meet the needs of rural dwellers.”Memphis Mayor A C Wharton, Jr. will open the pre-conference forum on May 19 with a rural exhibitor show featuring over 20 exhibitors from Canada, Mexico, and the United States showcasing partnerships between urban and rural places, efforts to improve service delivery and innovative projects leading to economic opportunities in rural areas. For more information please visit: http://www.oecd.org/rural/rural-development-conference/ The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development is the global economic policy forum providing analysis and advice to both its 34 member governments and countries worldwide, and dedicated to promoting better policies for better lives.