Rural Prosperity 

The Rural Prosperity track will focus on addressing the unique challenges in rural communities in South Carolina.  

THURSDAY, December 6, 2018

Breakout Session I
9:00am - 10:15am

USDA: Natural Resource Conservation Service—Consulting and Cash Available to Small Landowners

Rick Larson, Senior Vice President & Director of Strategic Initiatives, Natural Capital Investment Fund, & Beau Sorenson, Assistant State Conservationist for Field Operations, USDA
In his role as the Assistant State Conservationist for Field Operations, Mr. Beau Sorenson will outline the basics of NRCS’s no-cost consulting services and funding assistance available for smaller agricultural operations. Topics range from market opportunities, business planning, and programs available for new farmers. Natural Capital Investment Fund is a CDFI specializing in natural resource businesses and low interest bridge loans to farmers with NRCS contracts. This session is geared to community advocates who work with rural residents, and organizations interested in promoting community gardens, preserving working land, and increasing rural prosperity.

Breakout Session II
10:30am - 11:45am

Freewoods Farm—The Only African American Historical Living Farm Museum in the Nation

   Professor O'Neal Smalls    Freewoods Farm

Professor O'Neal Smalls
Freewoods Farm

The small family farm was the culturally dominant force in African-American lifestyle from the 1600s to the 1960s. In this session participants will learn the economic value of cultural preservation.  Professor O’Neal Smalls will overview Freewoods Farm’s fascinating transition from an African American working farm immediately after the Civil War through the 1900s, to its 21st Century role in public education, agri-heritage tourism, and minority economic development.  Steeped in African American history, Freewoods' and similar narratives are aspects of US history too often overlooked. 

Breakout Session III
1:45pm - 3:00pm

Bringing 21st Technology to Rural SC

Shannon Legree, USDA Rural Development
Internet access is as much critical infrastructure as is water, sewer, and electricity. In his role at USDA's Rural Development Telecommunications Program, Mr. Legree will provide an overview of USDA funding processes, opportunities, and challenges for the expansion of broadband connectivity in rural SC.

Breakout Session IV
3:30pm -4:45pm


How the 2018 Farm Bill Affects Us All – Urban & Rural

Stephanie Sox, Director of Promotion & Education Division South Carolina Farm Bureau Federation
South Carolina Farm Bureau Federation's Director of Promotion and Education, Stephanie Sox will review the recent version of the 2018 Farm Bill, and its current status. In this session Ms. Sox will discuss potential challenges and opportunities for small farmers; review pending changes and impacts to SNAP, rural housing, broadband; and inform participants on ways the Farm Bill can positively affect rural SC economic development for the next five years.

Friday, December 7, 2018

Breakout Session V
9:00am - 10:15am

Addressing the root causes of Poor health in South Carolina's rural communities

South Carolina is on the record for having some of the poorest health outcomes in the nation. South Carolina’s rural communities fare even worse in comparison to their urban counterparts.  Why do our communities fare so poorly even after years of federal, state and local investments?  What forces influence a population’s health and make it harder to be healthy in some rural communities?  To answer these questions, SCORH, with funding provided by the BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina Foundation, an independent licensee of the BlueCross and Blue Shield Association, works with rural communities through the Blueprint for Health program.  Currently five communities are participating in the program, which incorporates leadership training, a community project, and a visioning process to support local coalitions to build capacity to address the root causes of poor health at the local level.  This session will describe this work and lessons learned through the process.

   Andrew Chandler    Program Manager, South Carolina Office of Rural Health    Bio

Andrew Chandler
Program Manager, South Carolina Office of Rural Health

   Darlene Lynch    Director of Community Health Transformation, South Carolina Office of Rural Health    Bio

Darlene Lynch
Director of Community Health Transformation, South Carolina Office of Rural Health


Breakout Session VI
10:45am - 12:00pm

USDA Rural Development

George H. Randolph, Jr., Program Director Single Family Housing Programs, USDA
USDA Rural Development is home to over 40 programs that assists communities, businesses and individuals in rural SC. USDA Rural Development strives to be the most effective and efficient federal agency with a focus on customer service.  In this session, Program Director George Randolph, will provide a broad overview of those myriad programs and why rural SC should seek USDA Rural Development’s vital partnership at the outset of any proposed projects.