Hot Topics

Hot Topics

Our Hot Topics are a series of five webinars to help you build on the economic vitality of your rural community and connect to resources and like-minded communities. Topics for these workshops were chosen by listening to the rural communities we’ve worked with for over 25 years. Webinars are $100 for all 5 or $25 individually.

Thanks to all who participated in our fall webinars. Recordings are still available for purchase.

  • 3 Strategies for the Rural Housing Shortage: September 21

    The spectrum of housing concerns ranges from increasing the supply of homes to the lack of affordability and need for workforce housing. Rural leaders are eager to provide a sufficient amount of quality housing for their diverse residents but often don’t know where to begin.
    This webinar will address:
    • How rural communities can identify and organize to address their key housing issues
    • Case studies and approaches from rural Oregon communities
    • Options and tools to increase the housing supply
    • Public-private sector interests
    • How to get past the conversation and move to action

Facilitated by: Mary Bosch, Director of Rural Economic Vitality, RDI
Panelists: Kim Travis, Community Engagement Advisor, Oregon Housing and Community Services; Richard Townsend, Planning and Community Development Director, City of Lincoln City; Maui Meyer, Principal Broker and Managing Partner, Copper West Properties
Click here for speaker bios.

  • 4 Creative Approaches to Organize for Economic Vitality: October 12

    Is there an optimal design for economic development in your community?
    The short answer is NO.
    The structure for economic development in rural communities can look very different, depending on many factors, such as size, local capacity, and of course, community goals.
    We’ll explore some of these key factors that are necessary for success, as we explore innovative models from around the state:
    • Have you identified the economic fundamentals to maximize your economic potential?
    • Are you bringing together Public and Private Sector Leadership?
    • Do you understand and utilize Financial and Regulatory Resources?
    • Have you built Organizational Flexibility into your efforts?
    • And are you taking full advantage of local talent and experience?

    Join us as we explore four creative approaches to organizing for economic vitality, in an insightful hour that will help you move forward toward your own community’s economic development goals.
    Facilitated by: Anne Mitchell, Rural Economic Vitality Program Coordinator
    Panelists: Jamie Johnk, Economic Development Director, City of Woodburn; Harv Schubothe, Executive Director, Greater Bandon Association; Connie Stopher, Executive Director, South Coast Development Council; Ric Ingham, City Administrator, City of Veneta
    Click here for speaker bios.

  • Innovative Ways to Grow Your Downtown Businesses: October 26

    Lost in the narrative of economic development are the stories hidden in every one of our small towns; innovative rural businesses are pioneering their way toward success. During this webinar you’ll learn about, and be inspired by, how rural businesses and communities are taking initiative on developing cutting-edge business models and strategies that are transforming local economies. RDI’s very own Michael Held has uncovered 5 Innovative Ways to Growing your Downtown Business. The key to your town’s success may very well be hidden in this Hot Topic so join us for an inspiring and interactive discussion!
    Presenter: Michael Held, Senior Program Manager, RDI
    Click here for speaker bio.

  • 6 Innovative Ways to Access Capital in Your Rural Community: November 16

    Topics Include:
    • Navigating the Funding Landscape
    • Mission-Focused Lending
    • Community Public Offerings
    • & More
    Hear from a diverse group of experts who will share information, best practices, and case studies to stimulate discussion and ideas for next steps for your community. 

    Facilitated by: Lindsay Hill, Business Development Coordinator, RDI
    Panelists: Bruce Melzer, Strategic Advisor, Capital Access Team, Oregon Small Business Development Center; Turner Waskom, Senior Business Lender, Craft3; Matt Rutter, Director of Programs & Marketing, Oregon Association of Minority Entrepreneurs (OAME); Amy Pearl, Founder, Executive Director, Hatch Oregon

    Click here for speaker bios.
  • 7 Ways to Retain and Grow Young Talent: December 14

    Are you interested in learning how to engage and retain youth in your rural community?
    During this insightful hour, hear from a diverse group of experts who will share information, best practices, and case studies to stimulate discussion and ideas for next steps for your community.
    Topics Include:
    • The HomeTown Competitiveness youth engagement pillar that encourages youth to return to rural
    • Data illustrating the migration of Oregon's youth from rural to urban
    • Successes of introducing local business and industry to high school students to inspire them to move back after college and become contributing members of the community
    • Workforce training for schools to meet existing needs

    Facilitated by: Noelle Colby-Rotell, Director of Leadership Services, RDI
    Panelists: Craig Schroeder, Senior Fellow, New Generation Partnerships, Center for Rural Entrepreneurship; Nick Harville, Business Retention & Expansion Manager, SEDCOR (Strategic Economic Development Corporation); Jason Jurjevich, Assistant Director of the Population Research Center, Portland State University; Kristin Reese, Program Coordinator, Leaders for Tomorrow
    Click here for speaker bios.

These hour-long workshops will be held on Wednesdays starting at 12 noon PST, with an optional 15 minutes for Q&A after each session.

Webinars are $100 for all 5 or $25 individually. Limited scholarships are available. Contact Laura Garcia at or 541.684.9077 x1 for information about scholarships.

Can't make the date? All webinars will be recorded, and the recordings will be sent to registered participants so you won't miss a thing.

Learn More >>

Meet Our Team 

Mary Bosch

Director: Rural Economic Vitality Services

Noelle Colby-Rotell

Director of Leadership Services

Michael Held

Senior Program Manager: Rural Economic Vitality Services

Lindsay Hill

Business Development Coordination Consultant

Anne Mitchell

Rural Economic Vitality Program Coordinator