August 18, 2011

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Luckett’s Revitalizing Rural Mississippi Plan:

Initiative for Rural Infrastructure Systems

CLARKSDALE, MS — Continuing the rollout of his Revitalizing Rural Mississippi Plan, Bill Luckett launches his Initiative for Rural Infrastructure Systems (IRIS).

“We are one of the most rural states in the nation with 79 percent of its 82 counties outside of a Metropolitan Statistical Area,” Luckett said. “We have very specific challenges and we need a leader ready to help improve infrastructure in our rural areas. Our rural communities need all the amenities of 21st Century advancements.”

Health Services – As of 2008, 91 percent of Mississippi’s counties – 75 of 82 counties – are designated as Health Professional Shortage. IRIS will help bring high quality health care providers into Mississippi’s rural communities through student loan forgiveness and incentive options for practitioners who stay three years or longer.

Rural Transportation – To maximize the goods and services provided by our rural communities, Luckett is committed to the growth and maintenance of our highways. According to the Reason Foundation, Mississippi ranked 32nd in Rural Interstate Condition. From the everyday travel of working men and women to the needs of exporting products, Mississippi roadways need a steward dedicated to improvement and growth.

High Speed Internet – According to 2010 U.S. Census Bureau data, Mississippi is ranked dead last in Internet access, with only 56.6 percent of homes in the state having Internet access. Increasing broadband access is critical to the economic engine of Mississippi. Rural businesses need it for advertising and promotion. Rural residents need it for information and communication. Rural students need it for education. Mississippi’s rural communities cannot wait any long for access to high speed internet. Bill Luckett will work with industry leaders to find the most efficient and effective way to get rural Mississippi online.

Development of Local Food Systems – Luckett will launch a state government-wide initiative to work with growers, producers, processors, wholesalers, retailers, consumers and nutrition experts around the state to eliminate the so-called ‘food deserts’, communities where fresh affordable food is difficult to find. With Mississippi’s rich land and an abundance of water, there is ample opportunity for producing enough to feed every man, woman and child in the state.

Luckett said, “Economic growth in this state rests on the shoulders of our rural communities. The next governor of this state has an obligation to give our rural communities every possible resource to ensure their success. That commitment has been missing in Jackson for too long. I will be there for our rural men, women and business. I will help rebuild rural Mississippi and provide the infrastructure support to ensure long-term success.”