Registration Now Open For October 17-18 Conference: 2013 Rural Action Assembly To Define Priorities For Legislative Agenda For Rural Maryland

Maryland’s economic development statistics are impressive. Maryland tops the list for 10 states ranked for entrepreneurship and innovation, and is a top 10 state for growth and economic performance. But where does the state stand in terms of the standard of living affecting nearly one-third of its citizens who live in rural communities? Not so impressive.

Rural Maryland is plagued with higher rates of poverty and unemployment and lower rates of income and educational attainment than its metropolitan counterparts. Rural Marylanders consistently lack access to quality and affordable health care services and are faced with unique challenges such as a decaying infrastructure and the loss of rural working lands.

The challenges facing rural Maryland are numerous and complex, but not insurmountable, says three organizations that are coming together to present the 2013 Rural Action Assembly. The conference is set for October 17 and 18, and invites all stakeholders to unite to develop a legislative agenda for the 2014 Maryland General Assembly Legislative Session.

Hosted by the Maryland State Office of Rural Health, Maryland Rural Health Association, and Rural Maryland Council, the event will be held at Ripken Stadium, 873 Long Drive, Aberdeen. The conference fee is $280. for the full conference, which includes five meals and all the sessions. Space is limited. Advance registration is suggested. Walk-ins are welcome.

A limited number of group-rate rooms are available at the Courtyard Aberdeen at Ripken Stadium, adjacent to the stadium. To register visit For more information, call (410) 841-5772 or email

“This is a wonderful opportunity for all the stakeholders to come together – citizens, state and local government leaders, nonprofits, businesses – everyone who has a vested interested in improving life in rural Maryland,” says Charlotte Davis, executive director, Rural Maryland Council (RMC). “We need to work together, and to move forward together with one voice and one agenda to bring to our legislators. This conference is an important instrument to make that happen,” she adds.

Conference highlights include:
• “The Looming Crisis of Full Employment,” featuring Mark Lautman, founding director, Community Economics Laboratory, and author of “When the Boomers Bail: How Demographics Will Sort Communities into Winners and Losers.”
• Closing Plenary: “Creating a Unified Policy Playbook for Rural Maryland,” featuring Doug O’Brien, Acting Under Secretary for Rural Development, United States Department of Agriculture.
• A session on the Affordable Care Act implementation in Rural Maryland
• A legislative panel and outlook on the 2014 Maryland General Assembly Session, featuring Chairman Norm Conway, House Appropriations Committee.
• A Maryland state agency leaders panel, featuring: Secretary Buddy Hance, Department of Agriculture; Secretary Dominick Murray, Department of Business & Economic Development; Raquel Samson, Department of Health and Mental Hygiene; and Secretary Ray Skinner, Department of Housing & Community Development
• “Increasing Community Prosperity by Increasing Capacity,” presented by Don Macke, director of Entrepreneurial Communities, and Craig Schroeder, senior associate, both of the Center for Rural Entrepreneurship, Lincoln, Neb.
• IGNITE Rural Maryland closing session, featuring topics discussed in the conference and other issues that resonate with Rural Maryland.
Conference sponsors at press time include: Gold Sponsors: Community Health Integrated Partnership; MARBIDCO, Maryland Department of Agricultural Conflict Resolution Service; MedStar St. Mary’s Hospital, and University of Maryland School of Medicine; Silver Sponsors: Eastern Shore Entrepreneurship Center; Harford County Office of Tourism and Economic Development; and Maryland Forests Association; and Bronze Sponsors: CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield; Carroll County Department of Economic Development; Cecil County Office of Economic Development; Daly Computers, Inc.; Harry R. Hughes Center for Agro-Ecology, Inc.; LEAD Maryland Foundation, Inc.; Lower Shore Health Insurance Assistance MEDI; Maryland Citizens’ Health Initiative; Maryland Hospital Association; Maryland Insurance Administration; Mid-Atlantic Association of Community Health Centers; National Multiple Sclerosis Society, Maryland Chapter; Seedco; USDA Rural Development; Walsh Center for Rural Health Analysis; and Western Maryland Area Health Education Center.

The Rural Maryland Council (RMC) brings together citizens, community-based organizations, federal, state, county and municipal government officials as well as representatives of the for-profit and nonprofit sectors to collectively address the needs of Rural Maryland communities. The vision for the RMC is the ultimate realization that citizens living in rural communities are achieving success in education and employment, have access to affordable, quality health care and other vital public services, and live in an environment where natural and cultural resources are being sustained for future generations.

To learn more about the 2013 Rural Action Assembly or to register visit For information, call (410) 841-5772 or email Connect with the Rural Maryland Council at or on Twitter @RuralMaryland.