Wayne County Designated as 'Community of Faith and Opportunity'

By Sam Miller
Seated – left to right Lucy Ann Vierling, Wayne Pike Workforce Alliance executive director Mikki Uzupes, Wayne County Digital Media Specialist Kim Rickard, Wayne Tomorrow! Community Network Specialist Mary Beth Wood, Wayne Economic Development Corp. executive director Standing – left to right Wayne County Commissioners Jocelyn Cramer, Chairman Brian Smith, Joseph Adams
The USDA has designated Wayne County as A Community of Faith and Opportunity. Wayne Tomorrow! applied for the designation after attending a Penn State conference on the initiative. Mikki Uzupes talked about how learning about the initiative reminded her of Wayne Tomorrow’s own accomplishments.

Uzupes: "When I first read about it all I could think was 'we are already doing all of this'. We are sort of the poster child or this. I encouraged Kim [Rickard] right away saying that we should be presenting. We should be part of this conference not just there. We should be telling them what we are doing because we have taken these steps. One of the things that I've been proud of is this whole thing is when you look at the resources that the federal government put into coming up with what we came up with on a shoestring on our own, almost everything about Wayne Tomorrow! aligns with this entire initiative."

With this designation, Wayne County will have a direct liaison with the USDA to coordinate federal resources to the County.

Part of the plan is to help communities establish "Local Prosperity Councils" that engage the OneUSDA Team, federal, state, regional organizations and public and private entities in meeting and overcoming the challenges rural communities face. The designation entitles Wayne County to custom and tailored technical assistance from a USDA Liaison who will assist the county on USDA programs and initiatives. The liaison will develop and maintain partnerships with key USDA stakeholders to encourage and enhance greater outreach between USDA stakeholders, agencies, and staff offices.