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United Way of Southwest Virginia fights for the health, education and financial stability of every person in Southwest Virginia because they are the building blocks for a good quality of life.

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Staton to address Fed conference on Rural America

March 23, 2022

Staton to address Fed conference on Rural America

Travis Staton, far right, listens as Richmond Federal Reserve President and CEO Tom Barkin speaks at United Way of Southwest Virginia headquarters in Abingdon. File photo courtesy Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond

United Way of Southwest Virginia (UWSWVA) President and CEO Travis Staton will be a presenter in the Investing in Rural America Conference March 30 in Greensboro, NC. The conference, hosted by the Richmond Federal Reserve, will feature discussions with national experts, local leaders, and Richmond Fed economists on topics including workforce development, small businesses and entrepreneurship, rural development hubs, and demographic changes in rural America.

“Regional problems require regional solutions, while regional opportunities require region-wide cooperation to realize the full benefits,” Staton said. “The Richmond Federal Reserve understands this. So, this conference isn’t about top-down approaches from Washington. It’s about how communities in a given region can come together to address their common needs and common opportunities.”

The Richmond Fed has been aware of UWSWVA’s regional, cradle-to-career approach to economic and community development for some time. Most recently, in an article published on its website March 17, the Richmond Fed highlighted the work of USWVA through its Ignite Summer Internship program. “(UWSWVA is) convening partners to connect students from middle school and high school to careers and (is) using shared data collection to better understand if career interests in the region match projected career opportunities,” the article said. “The partners then coordinate career exploration, internships, and work-based learning opportunities through the Ignite Program, something that one partner or a smaller UW would have struggled to accomplish.”

United Way of Southwest Virginia serves a region encompassing roughly 20 percent of the landmass of Virginia, including 21 jurisdictions and 17 counties.

Staton will take part in a panel discussion on building the capacity of rural development hubs and intermediaries. Rural development hubs approach community well-being by taking an integrated approach to address a region’s systems that either advance or impede prosperity. “We’ll be providing tangible examples from our own rural communities to help other small towns and rural communities take their next steps in working together to address the problems and opportunities in their own regions,” Staton said.

Registration for the free conference, which will be held in a hybrid in-person/online format, is available online at: https://www.richmondfed.org/conferences_and_events/2022/20220330_investing_rural_america.

After registering, online attendees can sign up for the full day-long conference, or pick and choose which sessions to attend. Staton will be taking part in the 1 p.m. plenary panel.

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