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Mile High City with Mountains of Ideas

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack meets with business leaders from across Colorado at a White House Business Council roundtable in Denver to discuss innovative ideas to help create jobs.

Last week, I met with 20 business leaders from all over Colorado at a White House Business Council roundtable in Denver.  It was an opportunity for me and my Colorado staff to get feedback on government programs, policies, and innovative ideas that are working to help create jobs – as well as ones that could be improved.  Other Cabinet officials and top White House staffers have hosted more than 100 of these sorts of roundtables around the country.  And over the coming weeks we will be holding these conversations in rural areas.

In Denver, I heard from business leaders who discussed the value of President Obama’s tax policies for businesses of all sizes, and appreciated the administrations work to better partner with the business community.  We had a productive dialogue about how the pending trade agreements with South Korea, Columbia and Panama will benefit local agricultural producers, with the potential to create hundreds of jobs in Greeley, Colorado and other towns.  And we discussed how resorts might form partnerships on recreation to make better use of forests and other natural environments to help create jobs in communities throughout the Rocky Mountains.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack at a White House Business Council Roundtable

Secretary Vilsack addresses participants at a White House Rural Business Council meeting held in Denver, CO. Attendees represented the renewable energy, telecommunications, tourism, and agricultural industries on June 28, 2011. (Photo by Amy Mund, USDA Rural Development)

Everyone in the room agreed that there are incredible opportunities for growth in the economy as long as we believe in the strength and determination of the American people to work hard and innovate.

And these business leaders also were interested in creating jobs in rural communities.  They understand that small communities can offer a stable, well-educated, dedicated workforce – sometimes without having to pay big-city rent.  That is why they are so excited about the steps taken by the Obama administration to make rural communities great places to do businesses, with improvements to critical infrastructure like roads, stronger schools, and expanded access to broadband Internet.

Joining business leaders for a conversation has been a fantastic way for me and my colleagues to hear directly from people who are creating jobs and look for best practices that can be replicated elsewhere.  These efforts will not only mean more responsive government and more effective public policy – but we’ll help put folks back to work, and build the thriving businesses and economy we need to win the future.

Tom Vilsack is the Secretary of Agriculture.