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Office of Governor Gary Locke
Contact:  Governor's Communications Office, 360-902-4136

Governor to host forum on rural economic development

OLYMPIA - Gov. Gary Locke will host a day-long Rural Economic Development Summit June 24 in Moses Lake to identify ways to help all areas of the state prosper equally.

The eastern Washington summit is designed to bring together state and community leaders to discuss how rural communities can build their economies.

"The first Rural Economic Development Summit last November in Port Angeles identified some priorities for us to pursue," Locke said. "We need to continue that dialogue so we can help promote prosperity in all parts of the state."

The governor will make the keynote address at 8:30 a.m. at Big Bend Community College in the Peter D. DeVries Activity Center, site of the day-long event. Other activities include presentations on rural economic strategies and seven discussion groups on topics ranging from land-use planning, tourism and energy to infrastructure, business development and workforce training.

A cross section of community, government, business, labor and other groups will be among the 380 invited summit participants. Other speakers include Tim Douglas, director of the Washington Department of Community, Trade and Economic Development; Moses Lake Mayor Richard Pearce; State Representative Joyce Mulliken; and Grant County Commissioner Leroy Allison.

According to the state's Employment Security Department,Washington's unemployment rate for May was 4.1 percent, the lowest May rate since 1966. However, unemployment rates in several rural counties are significantly higher. Pend Oreille County has the highest unemployment rate at 11.8 percent, followed by Klickitat County at 9.7 percent, Adams County at 9 percent, and Grays Harbor County at 8.9 percent. Grant County, the site of the summit, has an unemployment rate of 7.5 percent.

"In Port Angeles, we listened to the concerns of rural communities and the challenges they face. The information we gained there has been extremely helpful in laying the groundwork for a statewide rural development strategy," said CTED Director Tim Douglas. "We look to this second summit to help us refine and sharpen the tools we can use in a state/community partnership to really make a difference in the rural areas of our state."

The discussion groups will offer recommendations to the governor at 1:30 p.m., and the governor will make closing remarks at 3 p.m.

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