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(West Plains) – The Southern Ozark Alliance for Rural Development (SOAR) will be hosting the first ever Rural Missouri Development Symposium, called “Relevance of Rural Missouri Development: Healthcare, Economic Impact, Education and Community Betterment” on August 13 at the West Plains Civic Center.

The cost to attend the day-long event is $15, which organizers say includes a lunch. Registration starts at 10 AM, with the Symposium starting around 10:30 AM.

SOAR President Mary Sheid says that the Symposium starts with an introduction of 8th Circuit Judge Duane Benton, who will speak from 10:30-11 AM. Following Judge Benton, the Healthcare forum will take place from 11 AM to 12 PM, and feature AMA President and Mercy Vice President Dr. David Barbe, OMC President and CEO David Zechman, and Ben Harvey, the Chief of Primary Care and Rural Health with the Missouri Department of Health and Human Services.

Lunch will be held from 12-1:30 PM, with 8th District Rep. Jason Smith (R-Salem) giving the keynote address.

The panel “Economic Development Considerations will take place from 1:30-2:30 PM, and will feature Michael Marshall with the Delta Regional Authority, Colin Collins with the Trillium Foundation, Bill Ransdall with the Missouri Department of Economic Development and Mike Downing, the director of the Economic Development for the state of Missouri.

After a half hour break from 2:30-3 PM, an education panel will be held from 3-4 PM and will feature Dr. David Russell, Commissioner Higher Education for CBHE (Coordinating Board for Higher Education), Senior Educational Consultant for Applied Engineering Management Corporation Dr. Karla Eslinger, MSU President Clif Smart, and Drury University Dr. David Manuel.

From 4-5 PM a community betterment panel will be held, featuring 33rd District State Senator Mike Cunningham (R-Rogersville) Missouri USDA Director Janie Dunning, Sen. Roy Blunt representative and district director Tom Schulte, and Sharon Gulick, Director Community Economic and Entrepreneurial Development ExCeed, MU Extension.

A wrap-up and Q and A session will be held from 5-5:30 PM.

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