This year's Rural Policy Forum, held August 7-8 in Globe-Miami, brought together rural community leaders and representatives in an important discussion on how to empower rural Arizona. The Forum welcomed nearly 220 attendees and almost 50 speakers, representing every county in Arizona.
Getting to Know Globe-Miami
Globe-Miami was a gracious host for this year's event, holding the main festivities and breakout sessions in the beautiful Bullion Plaza Cultural Center. The Forum provided a unique opportunity for attendees to get to know the town and community through a few elective events. The night before the conference, about 80 of the attendees joined up for the Bawdy Broad Street Tour Historic Downtown Globe. The group got a taste of what it was like in the early 1900s when the town was home to over 50 saloons and gambling houses and 150 "working women!" After day one of the forum, attendees could also spend the evening enjoying a 3-course dinner at the Dream Manor Inn, overlooking the historic mining community.
"Globe-Miami was an excellent host city! Loved the facilities, the Historic Downtown Globe Walk, the Dream Manor Inn, and Bullion Plaza," said one attendee about her experience in Globe-Miami. "I will definitely be returning to Globe-Miami!" said another. 94% of feedback survey respondents reported that they enjoyed their time in globe and that their experience was above average.
Tackling the Issues
There were breakout sessions and discussions on practically every major issue facing Arizona's rural communities. Tourism was a popular topic, with sessions discussing Arizona's emerging agri-tourism industry, how to exceed customer expectations to drive tourism and new dollars, and trade and tourism with Mexico. Some sessions focused on funding opportunities, including crowd funding and grant writing, while others focused on education from K-12 to community colleges to STEM programming.
"I was very impressed with the caliber of speakers and relevancy of the topics," said one attendee. "They were all well-spoken and professional, and offered great examples for idea generating in our own communities."
With over 40 different speakers and a variety of breakout sessions, there was a workshop for everyone. 100% of feedback survey respondents said that they found the content of the sessions relevant to their professional needs, and 93% of respondents said that they learned new information that will help them and their organization in the future.
Learning From Each Other
Throughout the event, collaboration was a major theme. Many rural communities face the same issues, whether its attracting Arizona tourists, job creation, or retention of young people. The Arizona Rural Policy Forum allows individuals facing similar issues to come together to collectively work on solutions to empower Arizona's rural communities.
"It's not necessary to reinvent the wheel when we can come together and learn from one another," said Local First Arizona Foundation and Arizona Rural Development Council Director Kimber Lanning. "I was impressed with the level of dialogue and the ideas that came out of many of the sessions at this year's Forum. I think we'll be seeing some incredible actions happening in Arizona's rural communities across the state."
96% of feedback survey respondents said that they enjoyed the overall theme of collaboration at the forum, and 95% of respondents said that networking at the Rural Policy Forum was helpful and that they met individuals that will be valuable to them in the future.
Whether you attended the event or not, presentations from the 8th Annual Rural Policy Forum are available for download by clicking here. Be sure to follow the Arizona Rural Development Council on Facebook for the latest updates on rural Arizona issues! We look forward to seeing you all at next year's Rural Policy Forum!