Rural Development Think Tank Leads to a Call for Action

This article is over 8 years old.

BRANDON, MB – Rural Works! A Rural Policy Think Tank held at the Keystone Centre in Brandon, Manitoba in November, 2014 started a conversation about designing a successful future for rural Manitoba zeroing in on economic development. It was developed and hosted as part of the long-time partnership between the Rural Development Institute (RDI) at Brandon University (BU) and Manitoba Agriculture, Food, and Rural Development (MAFRD). Today, RDI released a summary of the discussions at the think tank along with 6 recommendations intended to inspire ongoing conversations and actions about development in rural Manitoba.

Rural Works! was an important occasion to share and exchange knowledge on supporting prosperous rural communities across Manitoba,” says BU President Dr. Gervan Fearon. “I am proud of our University’s involvement with this think tank, as well as our rich history of supporting rural research and development.”

The over 70 participants at Rural Works! represented most provincial departments involved in rural development, as well as rural academics, leaders and advocates from community and business organizations. They challenged assumptions about rural Manitoba and had respectful conversations about workable solutions to perennial problems.

“Rural Manitoba is dynamic and rural Manitobans want to have a say in the future of their communities,” says RDI Director Dr. Bill Ashton. “Strengthened by their diversity, participants shared their vast knowledge and experience with a common focus on how to work together to create a successful future for rural Manitoba.”

RDI Director Dr. Bill Ashton presents at Think Tank

The 6 recommendations for action arising from Rural Works! encourage more conversations about the varied dimensions of rural development in Manitoba, as well as the articulation of a Prairie Rural Economic Development Strategy. Considering a functional economic region approach to development is suggested as a way to respond to opportunities and realities. Investing in data collection, paying attention to local assets, and working collaboratively are also recommended. Through asking questions and actively being a part of the conversation, rural Manitobans can have an influence over policies impacting their communities.

The Rural Works! Summary Report and Rural by Design: Recommended Actions from Rural Works! are available online at

RDI was established in 1989 because Brandon University and the Province of Manitoba recognized the importance and investigative worth of rural issues. Since then, RDI has built a strong network of partners to support rural development with applied research, knowledge, dissemination, and learning.

Brandon University, founded in 1899, promotes excellence in teaching, research, and scholarship; educating students so that they can make a meaningful difference as engaged citizens and leaders.



To receive any BU publication in an alternate format please contact

About BU

Success is built at Brandon University. Our growing, progressive campus welcomes a diverse and inclusive community that combines proud tradition with shared ambition. Through our excellence in teaching, research, and scholarship, we educate students to make a meaningful difference as engaged citizens and leaders. Join us at