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doug mckalip

Announcing the U.S. Tall Wood Building Prize Competition to Innovate Building Construction

Cross-posted from the White House Rural Council:

As part of the Obama administration's commitment to mitigate climate change, USDA, in partnership with the Softwood Lumber Board and the Binational Softwood Lumber Council, is announcing the U.S. Tall Wood Building Prize Competition. This competitive prize, open to teams of architects, engineers, and developers, will showcase the architectural and commercial viability of advanced wood products like Cross Laminated Timber (CLT) in tall buildings.

Advanced wood products are becoming the latest innovation in tall building construction. Products like CLT are flexible, strong, and fire resistant. In construction, wood products can be used as a successful and sustainable alternative to concrete, masonry, and steel. Using wood also reduces greenhouse gas emissions by storing carbon and simultaneously offsetting emissions from conventional building materials. By some estimates, the near term use of CLT and other emerging wood technologies in buildings 7-15 stories could have the same emissions control affect as taking more than 2 million cars off the road for one year.

Join A White House Rural Council Forum on Regional Food Economies; June 9, 12:45 ET

How is investing in regional food economies an investment in rural America? How can rural America benefit from the growing demand for local food?  How are local food systems supporting the economy in your town?

On Monday, June 9 at 12:45 ET, the White House Rural Council will host Regional Food Economies: Building Market Opportunities for Rural America, a conversation between USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack, US Department of Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx, Dan Carmody of Detroit's Eastern Market Corporation, and Melissa Rivers of the East Arkansas Planning and Development District moderated by Doug McKalip of the White House Domestic Policy Council.

FFA State Presidents ‘Suit Up’ for Agriculture

Editor’s Note: Yesterday, Secretary Vilsack had the opportunity to speak with some of our nation’s brightest young leaders at the National FFA Organization’s State Presidents’ Conference. He discussed USDA’s efforts to revitalize the rural economy and recognized the officers for their commitment to leadership, personal growth and career success. Below is a blog post submitted to USDA by Clay Sapp, 2012-13 National FFA President.

A Promise Kept in Dillon, South Carolina

More than 800 students, teachers, elected officials and community leaders were present at the new Dillon Middle School dedication on Thursday morning, September 6th. Several years ago, a letter was written to Congress pleading for help to replace the 100 year old dilapidated school by then-eight grader, Ty’Sheoma Bethea.

Doug McKalip, Senior Policy Advisor for Rural Affairs with the White House Domestic Policy Council stated, “I think Ms. Bethea's letter shows that an individual can have an impact, that the Obama Administration is listening, that we monitor closely the items that folks send by letter, email, and telephone. And that there often is action from the input.”

“This state of the art school is dedicated to the academic advancement of our children. I am pleased that the promise to the children of Dillon County has been kept,” said Vernita Dore, USDA Rural Development state director. Ms. Dore was instrumental in helping to fund construction of Dillon County Middle School, which replaces the old and dilapidated JV Martin Junior High, which was mentioned in President Obama’s first State of the Union address.

USDA Recognizes Manufacturers who are Making a Difference in Rural America

Last month the White House and the USDA hosted the “Recognition of Manufacturing Success in Rural America” event at the White House Eisenhower Executive Office building in Washington, DC.  The ceremony recognized 46 rural manufacturing companies that have made outstanding contributions to the economy and job sustainability in their communities.

White House Roundtable Meeting with Rural Leaders

This week, I led a meeting in the Roosevelt Room at the White House with leaders of a host of rural organizations to discuss the White House Rural Council.  The White House Rural Council, which was established by President Obama on June 9, 2011, will build on this Administration’s unprecedented efforts to spur job creation and economic growth in rural America.  Along with Jon Carson, the Director of the Office of Public Engagement and Doug McKalip of the White House Domestic Policy Council, we discussed the Council’s efforts to improve coordination among federal agencies. We focused in on ways to help better leverage existing federal resources in rural America – and on how  to facilitate private-public partnerships that can move the needle in building stronger rural communities.

The meeting was a chance for me to listen to our rural partners on the issues that need to be addressed and discuss potential solutions.  Some of the key issues raised included the need to coordinate more with our federal partners on health care, broadband, and other critical infrastructure; how to increase the availability of capital and lending to rural businesses and families; efforts to remove barriers to young and beginning farmers; and strategies for establishing better partnerships with states, tribes, local governments and the private sector. Many of the leaders gathered also expressed appreciation for the renewed focus on rural America and the importance the White House has placed on these issues.