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Maryland Celebrates Rural Maryland Day

February 11, 2016 was proclaimed Rural Maryland Day by Governor Larry Hogan. As stated in the proclamation, “the agricultural, forest, and seafood industries of Maryland continue to support the economies of the rural regions, provide thousands of jobs,… and help to preserve thousands of acres of farm and forest land that contribute to the scenic beauty of our countryside and the protection of soil and water resources.”

Members of the Rural Maryland Council met with members of the Maryland General Assembly on issues of importance to rural Maryland. For the first time since its creation in 2006, the Rural Maryland Prosperity Investment Fund (RMPIF) will receive $2 million in funding for important investments in rural economic development, entrepreneurship, infrastructure and health care programs.

The primary goal of the Rural Maryland Prosperity Investment Fund is to provide targeted investments to various regional, nonprofit, and educational entities in order to bring rural Maryland’s standards of living up to statewide averages. The Governor is authorized, but not required, to include an appropriation in the annual Budget Bill for fiscal years 2008 through 2020.

About one-quarter of Maryland’s population live in eighteen rural counties. Many of these communities have higher rates of poverty and unemployment and lower rates of income and educational attainment than their metropolitan and suburban neighbors. Agricultural and resource-based industries continue to support the local economies, but are increasingly under threat from outside competition, land development pressure and regulatory changes. Access to health care providers and services presents additional challenges.

The Rural Maryland Prosperity Investment Fund can offer important targeted investment to promote economic prosperity in Maryland’s traditionally disadvantaged and underserved rural communities. By sustaining efforts to promote rural regional cooperation, facilitating entrepreneurial activities and supporting key community colleges and nonprofit providers, the quality of life in rural Maryland can be advanced over the next several years.