Twin States Strategy

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It was only the first meeting, but it could prove to be a major shift in the way things are done.

"So we're trying to be at the front end of some opportunities, rather than at the back end," said Steve Pelham of Alabama Rural Development.

Members of the Mississippi and Alabama offices of rural development, as well as local and state political leaders, met to start a collaborative effort between the two states to improve life in rural America.

"This is a good opportunity from a regional perspective, even though we are in separate states, to come together and talk about those things that we have in common," said Nick Walters of Mississippi Rural Development.

"So it's not just sticking with the same old way that we've always done it," said Bill Crawford of the Montgomery Institute. "Maybe there's a different way to do it. Maybe crossing state lines, we won't let that be a barrier to trying to help the community at large."

Rural development is under the auspices of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Walters and Pelham will work so the people of east Mississippi and west Alabama can get a jump on funding provided by the President's recently passed Farm Bill.

"There's everything from broadband access to rural areas to strategic planning dollars and other things that Steve and I wanted to make sure that our communities here were aware of those," said Walters.

Tuesday's meeting was just the starting point of this process. Everyone involved has homework to take home, and they plan on meeting in the future to discuss their findings.