RPN representatives visit Fulton County, South Fulton; Resources, needs connect at Forum

April 12, 2023

Benita Fuzzell

The USDA Rural Partners Network, which includes Fulton County, Ky. and South Fulton, Tenn. facilitated a public forum held April 12 at Fulton’s Pontotoc Community Center, preceded by a Meet and Greet, also open to the public, April 11 at The Meadows Hotel in Fulton.

Funds used to coordinate the two-day event will be reimbursed through USDA.

Brad Rodgers, Community Liaison for Rural Partners Network-Kentucky served as the event moderator April 12 and a welcome was provided by Dr. Thomas Carew, State Director of Kentucky USDA Rural Development, as well as Dr. Corey Wiggins, Federal Co-Chairman of Delta Regional Authority.

Fulton County Judge/Executive Jim Martin provided a history of Fulton County for those in attendance, and Christine Sorensen, RPN National Team Engagement Lead providing background information to those in attendance as to the origin of RPN.

Fulton-Hickman Counties Economic Development Partnership President Mark Welch shared an overview of the local RPN’s needs and vision, and following a lunch provided, representation from a number of federal agencies were stationed at assigned tables where forum attendees had the opportunity to gather information as well as request follow-up calls on topics and agencies of interest.

The lunch menu included samplings of a number of Fulton, South Fulton and Hickman restaurants, which consisted of popular specialty items, as well as pecan pie, a tribute to Hickman’s Pecan Festival and banana pudding, to highlight the Twin Cities’ Banana Festival.

Community Liaison RPN-Kentucky Brad Rodgers provided the forum’s summary and transition into an optional tour of the area of Fulton County and the Twin Cities of Fulton, Ky. and South Fulton, Tenn., provided by the Fulton County Transit Authority.

In an effort to transform the way the federal government partners with rural communities to spur inclusive, sustainable economic growth, the RPN creates an alliance of federal agencies and civic partners working to expand rural prosperity through job creation, infrastructure development, and community improvement.

The RPN will improve on equitable access to federal programs and funding and held drive local economic development.

The RPN introduces a new way of doing business: the collaboration among federal agencies meant to improve access to government resources, staffing and tools. Participating agencies designate key points of contact who focus specifically on rural strategies, improving visibility and attention to rural issues.

RPN Field Staff are tasked with feeding key information to federal agencies regarding community needs and barriers to accessing federal resources. Agencies will then use that information to drive policy changes to address the unique challenges faced by rural communities.
Among federal agencies included as RPN members, made available to the Fulton County/South Fulton RPN, are the Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Education, Energy, Health and Human Services, Housing and Urban Development, the Interior, Labor, Transportation, the Treasury, Veterans Affairs, Environmental Protection Agency, Small Business Administration, Appalachian Regional Commission, Delta Regional Authority, Denali Commission, Northern Border Regional Commission, Southeast Crescent Regional Commission, Social Security Administration and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau .