Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Obama's Rural Tour Includes Las Cruces, NM

Secy's Donovan and Vilsack
A day after First Lady Michelle Obama announced that nearly $13-million dollars was being granted to rural New Mexico Community Health Centers, the administration has announced President Barack Obama's 2009 Rural Tour will make a stop in New Mexico.

Las Cruces is the last city listed on the schedule for top Administration officials who will be crisscrossing the United States beginning tomorrow and ending in New Mexico on September 30th.

Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack are scheduled to travel to Las Cruces, NM, to discuss rural infrastructure on the last day of the tour.

All of Obama's cabinet level secretaries are will be involved in the summer discussions on how communities, states, and the federal government can work together to strengthen rural America.

Both Lieutenant Governor Diane Denish and Governor Bill Richardson have already toured the state. They are working with communities from Farmington to Carlsbad and Deming to Raton to prepare to applications for federal grant money under the 2009 American Reinvestment and Recovery Act. Many communities are preparing to apply for broadband communication grants. Others are looking at health care and road projects. Many want grant money to help with refurbishing their schools.

Obama wants his rural tour listening sessions to focus on such issues as broad-based rural health, economic development, infrastructure, education, energy, natural resources, and agriculture. Events will be held in Alaska, Louisiana, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Wisconsin. And, Secretary Vilsack will hold listening sessions in additional states with local and state elected officials.

The White House said: The entire tour will provide an opportunity for the Obama Administration to listen to diverse voices throughout rural America, and to highlight its broader vision for growth and prosperity in these regions of the country.

The tour kicks off tomorrow with Vice President Joe Biden and Secretaries Gary Locke and Tom Vilsack in Wattsburg, Pennsylvania. They will discuss the issue of rural broadband.

The White House released this statement from Barack Obama:
A healthy American economy depends on a prosperous rural America. Rural America is vast and diverse, and different communities face different challenges and opportunities. That’s why we’re going out to hear directly from the people of rural America about their needs and concerns and what my Administration can do to support them.

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