Jill Rees (in center) discussing USDA involvement with representatives of Innovate Willamina and the Ford Family Foundation.

Last Tuesday, community leaders from Willamina meet with representatives of USDA Rural Development and the Ford Family Foundation to discuss ways help support the community as it works together to develop new economic prosperity Willamina. The meeting was a preliminary one that explored ways to support the growth and development of Willamina with the help of USDA and the Ford Family Foundation’s resources.

The meeting consisted of Jill Rees, the Acting State Director for the USDA, and her colleague Tim O’Connell. They shared how they were inspired by Willamina’s drive to reimagine their economy and to develop new educational models to better prepare youth for the new digital economy. They also shared some of the ways that they felt that they could the help the efforts being made by the Willamina residents to enact improvements in the community through several USDA programs including possible grants that Willamina can apply to.

Denise Bacon of the Ford Family Foundation also shared some of the ways they would like to help provide support to the community development.

Overall, the meeting was a productive discussion and laid the foundation for an important long-term strategic partnership between the community and the USDA.