Sidney city manager testifies on Capitol Hill - Scottsbluff Area News, Sports, and Weather

Sidney city manager testifies on Capitol Hill

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A KOTA Territory city leader testified on Capitol Hill this week on ways to ensure the longevity of rural America.
Gary Person, Sidney's City Manager, spoke in front of a congressional subcommittee to discuss the importance of regional strategies in rural economic development.

Person says the rural way of life is disappearing in many places across the United States, as rural communities are struggling to find a way to survive in a drastically changing world.

He says most rural communities won't and can't survive in today's world if they don't diversify from the agriculture revenue stream that is their primary economy.

Person Sidney was able to find new ways of economic sustainability through "homegrown entrepreneurs like the Cabela family."  

He says this is a struggle for most rural communities, especially with the increasing federal regulations.

He says in order for rural America to survive, there needs to be a shift in policy, and an elimination of bureaucracy.
"One of the key advantages rural America had a generation ago was its low cost of utilities and housing, The same is not true today," Person said. "Our small community has had to endure 20 million dollars of mandated public infrastructure projects primarily brought on by the increased environmental regulations dealing with water, wastewater, landfill, electrical generation sources, emission standards and others. Combines with new banking regulations, it will put many small communities out of business and lock the door for any hope of a rural renaissance."
Person says USDA programs have helped to balance federal regulations, but the programs need more flexibility on income standards.

Despite the mounting challenges rural america is facing, Person says hope is not lost.

"Today's generation is not pulled by the emotional heartstrings like those of us who grew up in rural America. They will, however, come back for good jobs, quality of life, and a safe place to raise their families."
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