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Rural communities in crisis may find relief by “Growing Green”

8/16/2011 12:00 AM

COLLEGE STATION - Drought. Wildfires. Debt. Joblessness. Many rural communities in Texas are facing an economic crisis.  Capitalizing on natural resources for alternative energy and adopting sustainable technologies could be the lifeline to pull some communities out of an economic slide.

A statewide conference on “Growing Green Communities” will address how rural Texas communities can “save money, make money, and create jobs” through harnessing emerging green technologies and sustainable industries. The conference will be held Nov. 14-16 at the Austin Airport Hilton Hotel, and is open to anyone interested in green economic development, diversifying employment opportunities or sustainable business opportunities and practices.

The conference theme is “Harnessing Energy for Rural Communities” and a cadre of experts will address sustainable technologies, “green” careers and financial incentives and policies relating to green initiatives. Topics will include renewable energy projects, sustainable practices in agriculture, energy-saving ideas, tax credits, state and federal incentives, financing tools and best practices.

“This conference will provide rural communities with the tools they need to exploit sustainable technologies and methods for economic development,” said Gary Sera, CEO of the Texas Engineering Extension Service (TEEX), which is coordinating the conference. “This is all about good business and making money. In this case, green means money.”

Participants will meet and network with speakers from Texas finance, business and government, along with representatives from wind, solar and other sustainable industries, who will discuss how green or sustainable industries and technologies can boost the economy, improve a company's bottom line and create jobs. Community leaders and entrepreneurs will hear first-hand from business owners about how they use sustainable business practices and learn more about funding sources, financial incentives and other resources available to start or attract sustainable rural development projects and businesses.

Conference planners hope to reach a wide range of stakeholders in rural economic development, including elected and appointed officials, business owners and entrepreneurs, school district administrators, facility or fleet managers, economic developers and electric power companies, utilities and co-ops.

During the conference, 9 outstanding projects that have created economic value and opportunity through environmental stewardship, energy conservation and sustainable practices in Texas rural communities will be recognized by the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) and TEEX, a member of The Texas A&M University System.  The awards will showcase the best sustainable practices in Texas rural communities in five categories: schools, rural communities, businesses, electric cooperatives/utilities, and elected officials.

The Growing Green Communities conference is coordinated by TEEX and funded by the EDA.  Other conference partners include the Texas Association of Regional Councils (TARC), Texas Department of Agriculture (TDA), Texas Economic Development Council (TEDC), Texas General Land Office (TGLO), and Texas Center for Applied Technology (TCAT).

For more information, visit www.growinggreencommunities.com or contact Ann Lauter at 979-458-6723.

Media Contact:
Brian Blake, Communications Director
Texas Engineering Extension Service
301 Tarrow
College Station, TX 77840
Brian.Blake@tamu.edu
979-458-6837 (office) or 979-324-8995 (cell)

Contact Information

Kathy Fraser

Associate Director of Marketing and Communications

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