Governor picks Nevers to lead state rural revitalization group

Published 4:03 am Wednesday, February 19, 2020

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On Friday, Gov. John Bel Edwards signed an executive order formally establishing the Governor’s Advisory Council on Rural Revitalization. Ben Nevers, a former state senator from Bogalusa and a former chief of staff for Edwards, will chair the new council.

The council will identify the needs and issues facing Louisiana’s vital rural communities, as well as solutions to removing any barriers that prohibit them from being more productive, healthy and attractive places to live and work.

“Rural communities across the country are in crisis, and we are no different here in Louisiana,” Edwards said. “They bear a disproportionate burden of poverty, lack adequate access to healthcare, education and other basic necessities. This council will help us identify their unique challenges and help implement effective and innovative Louisiana solutions.

“It’s in the best interests of our state to engage in a centralized and coordinated effort to further the revitalization of our rural areas and make certain the resources are available to help them grow in a sustainable way.”

The advisory council will be comprised of 34 key state and local stakeholders appointed by the governor.

The council will develop and submit a comprehensive strategic plan to the governor by Jan. 5, 2021, and annual progress reports thereafter.

The duties of the council include:

  • Advising the governor on issues of concern to the citizens of rural Louisiana.
  • Identifying the needs, issues, and solutions relative to rural revitalization, including economic development, education, healthcare, infrastructure, clean water, housing, workforce development, and broadband.
  • Identifying state, federal, and private resources available to facilitate rural revitalization efforts.
  • Identifying best practices from other states and recommend legislation to accomplish the solutions proposed.