Economic Development

In It For Rural Resources: A ROADS Event Recap

February 21, 2024  • Community Strategies Group

On January 31, 2024, an audience of over 450 attended a virtual Rural Opportunity and Development Session to hear takeaways from a new Brookings Institution report quantifying new federal opportunities for funding and technical assistance for rural America.

Attendees joined to learn more about which federal opportunities are most significant to rural communities and what steps communities need to take to qualify for these investments. As part of the discussion, they heard from rural leaders on the challenges and opportunities they see on the horizon when it comes to funding. These resources present an enormous opportunity for rural places to advance equitable community and economic development. However, navigating the scale of what’s available and the complexity of the programs is challenging, especially for lower-capacity and underinvested communities.

Part 1

Part one of the event involved a presentation by Tony Pipa, senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. He shared takeaways from the new report, “What’s in it for rural: Analyzing the opportunities for rural America in IIJA, CHIPS, and IRA?” and then engaged in a short Q&A with Nathan Ohle from the International Economic Development Agency, moderator for the event. Click here to jump to this segment.

Part 2

Part two of the event involved a roundtable discussion with four rural economic development specialists: Brett Doney of the Great Falls Development Authority, Ann Lichter of the Rural Innovation Initiative, Josh Mejia, the founder of Mejia & Company, and Bill Brown of the Indiana University Environmental Resilience Institute. Click here to jump to this segment:

Rural Resources

We present the following resources without endorsement that participants shared during the session.


The ROAD Sessions highlight and unpack rural development ideas and strategies that promote access to inclusive economic opportunity and long-term resilience. ROAD Sessions feature stories of on-the-ground practitioners with experience, wisdom, and savvy to share. The series reflects and emphasizes the full diversity of rural America, spotlights rural America’s assets and challenges, and lifts voices and lived experience from a wide range of rural communities and economies. Each Session includes an added opportunity for peer exchange.

Overall, the ROAD Sessions aim to infuse practitioner stories and lessons into rural narratives, policymaking, and practice across the country and to strengthen the network of organizations serving rural communities and regions.

The ROAD Sessions are virtual exchanges co-designed as part of Thrive Rural – an effort of the Aspen Institute Community Strategies Group with support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation – and in collaboration with the Housing Assistance Council, the Rural Community Assistance Partnership, Rural LISC, the International Economic Development Council, and the Federal Reserve Board.