press release

News from Progress Michigan

Tuesday, September 14, 2021 

Contact: Levi Teitel,

‘Building Back Rural Michigan’ Livestream Highlights Policy Agenda for Rural Communities     

Progress Michigan hosts discussion advocating policies to help rural communities thrive

MICHIGAN – As part of its advocacy around the 2021 Rural Policy Action Report, Progress Michigan hosted a virtual discussion on Tuesday to talk about the challenges facing rural Michiganders and the policy priorities that would allow rural communities across the state to thrive.  

In a wide-ranging dialogue that included topics like voting rights, historical discrimination, agriculture, health care, education, energy, and infrastructure, panelists Megan Hess and Jim Lively, who are experts in community-building throughout rural Michigan, spoke about how federal policymakers could directly impact the lives of rural Michiganders for the better. The discussion outlined a bold, progressive vision so everyone has the chance to succeed regardless of their ZIP code. 

“The 2021 Rural Policy Action Report does a good job of reflecting the entirety of the rural experience because it brings in diverse perspectives and identifies how we can work toward racial and social equity, a fairer economy, good jobs, and safe infrastructure for Michigan’s rural communities,” said Megan Hess, rural organizing director for We the People Michigan.      “It’s time to heed the call for rural policy that takes these nuances into account, and stop recycling outdated myths about rural Michigan.”      

The 2021 report tackles four key pillars: ending historic discrimination, investing in rural communities, reining in corporate monopolies and prioritizing working people and locally owned businesses, and building a rural economy that prioritizes community and is sustainable, not extractive. Throughout 2021, Progress Michigan is advocating for the reforms identified in the report while garnering public attention to highlight why these policies are so important for a sustainable future for our state.  

“It’s imperative that we bring light to rural issues and rural people who are too often excluded from policy conversations,” said Jim Lively, director of program strategy for Groundwork Center for Resilient Communities. “We must take bold action to address these challenges and help build strong, thriving rural communities in Michigan and across the country.”

The full conversation can be found here: