Poarch Creeks Showcased at White House Rural Development Conference

Rural Development Conference The Poarch Band of Creek Indians was honored to be one of only 12 tribes invited to the 10th OECD Rural Development Conference, which took place May 19-21 in Memphis, Tenn.

The seminar was hosted by the White House Rural Council with the support of the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency and Mexico's Secretariat for Agrarian, Territorial and Urban Development.

Out of the 12 tribes that were invited, only two tribes were asked to speak at the conference — the Poarch Band of Creek Indians and the Mississippi Band of Choctaws. Representing PBCI was Muskogee Technology's Director of Marketing, Mal McGhee.

McGhee showcased how the Poarch Band of Creek Indians has utilized governmental programs to spring board growth and sustainability, allowing them to enter into many diverse economic businesses. McGhee was the only representative who was asked to speak twice at the event. Each time, McGhee was surrounded by attendees who wanted to know more about how the tribe and its enterprises operate.

"I was very honored and proud to attend on behalf of the tribe," McGhee said. "My background and experience of being in past leadership roles, and now working in a business development role, allowed me to present our tribe's growth and tell our story.

"We are a true success story. We are proud to be a part of Southwest Alabama, working with multiple organizations to help our community be a better place," he said. "This conference brought a lot of exposure to our tribe and as a result, afforded us an opportunity to discuss the tribe's successful rural development."

Leading policy officials and international experts from all over the world, as well as from the private sector attended the conference to discuss of the best practices for rural areas.

"I believe that indigenous people everywhere have abundant opportunities to secure prosperity through self-determination and, in doing so, should honor their rich culture and traditions, enhance the excellence of their governing institutions and celebrate the well-being of their children," said Patrice Kunesh, Deputy Under Secretary for USDA Rural Development. "The Poarch Band's participation in the RD - OECD Conference provided valuable insight into the depth of this essential self-determination work."

Also attending the conference was Alabama's State Director of Rural Development, Ronald Davis.

"It is encouraging to see PCBI partner with USDA to promote community and economic development in Escambia County," Davis said. "PCBI's participation in the OECD conference demonstrated their willingness to share best practices which reflected their ability to develop successful partnerships inside and outside tribal communities. I consider them to be a strong economic motivator within the state of Alabama."

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