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Governor’s Summit on Rural Prosperity Coming to Smithfield, Oct. 12-13


The 2022 Governor’s Summit on Rural Prosperity, presented by the Virginia Rural Center, takes place Oct. 12-13 at the Smithfield Center in Smithfield, Virginia.

Lt. Gov. Winsome Earle-Sears will be the keynote speaker to open the event followed by D.J. Jordan, Chief of Staff for Attorney General of Virginia, who will be the featured speaker.

In addition to seven members of Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s cabinet, local, state and private sector representatives from across Virginia will be in attendance to discuss innovative initiatives occurring in rural communities. The Virginia Rural Center is a partnership of the Center for Rural Virginia and the Council for Rural Virginia, which collaborate on a joint mission to work with policymakers and stakeholders to create solutions and expand entrepreneurial opportunities on behalf of the Commonwealth.

Kristie Proctor, Executive Director of Virginia Rural Center, along with Del. Emily Brewer and Sen. Frank Ruff will deliver opening remarks prior to the keynote speech at noon on Wednesday, Oct. 12. After lunch, John Littel, Virginia Secretary of Health & Human Resources, and Shep Miller, Virginia Secretary of Transportation, will outline Youngkin’s vision and priorities for rural Virginia.

An afternoon session will focus on the balance between agriculture and natural resources conservation as it overlaps with the local economy. Panelists will be Matt Lohr, Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry; Travis Voyles, Acting Secretary of Natural and Historic Resources; Judy Winslow, Director of Smithfield & Isle of Wight Tourism; and Stewart Leeth, Chief Sustainability Officer of Smithfield Foods.

Attendees will see Smithfield by boat or a customized walking tour of its downtown afterward. The boat tours will be led by The Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources and The Virginia Marine Resources Commission. An evening reception on the back deck of Smithfield Station Restaurant is scheduled for 6:30 p.m.

The following day, Oct. 13, will include an hourlong panel on solutions to the rural housing crisis set for 9 a.m. Panelists include Bryan Horn, Director of Virginia Housing and Community Development, and Del. Danny Marshall.

Tamarah Holmes, Director of the Office of Broadband for Virginia, will deliver an update on broadband in rural Virginia before another panel that will focus on collaboration and innovation to increase the rural workforce. Three Virginia Secretariats will discuss how their agencies are addressing the problem. They are Bryan Slater (Labor), Caren Merrick (Commerce and Trade) and Aimee Guidera (Education).

Closing remarks will be delivered by Jason El Koubi, President and CEO of the Virginia Economic Development Partnership.

For more information about this event, click here.

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