Executive Order

Executive Order  No. 391: Implementation of presidential initiative on rural economic development

Date: 08/22/1996
Issuer: William F. Weld
Mass Register: No. 799

Table of Contents

WHEREAS, the Commonwealth, acting through its branches, officers, and departments, is committed to improving the quality of life in rural Massachusetts, while preserving the characteristics which give rural communities their unique sense of place; and

WHEREAS, the Commonwealth intends to provide opportunities for people and businesses in rural areas to compete in a changing world by combining the best traditions of rural Massachusetts with the opportunities presented by the 21st century; and

WHEREAS, the fulfillment of these goals is dependent upon coordination between all levels of government and between public and private sectors of the Commonwealth, in order to ensure the full utilization of all available resources; and

WHEREAS, the National Presidential Initiative for Rural Development, issued on January 22, 1990, ordered implementation of the White House Economic Policy Council's Working Group on Rural Development's report Rural Economic Development for the 1990s: A Presidential Initiative, and offered the Commonwealth the opportunity to participate in the National Rural Development Initiative;

NOW, THEREFORE, I, William F. Weld, Governor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, by virtue of the authority vested in me as supreme executive magistrate, do hereby order the following:


Section 1. The Massachusetts Rural Development Council ("Council") is hereby established in order to undertake a comprehensive strategic approach to rural development efforts within the Commonwealth. The Council shall incorporate under the provisions of Chapter 180 of the General Laws and shall qualify and remain in good standing as a tax-exempt organization under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. The Council shall assist the Commonwealth in meeting the requirements for participation in the National Presidential Rural Initiative. The Council shall remain in existence until the Memorandum of Understanding between me and the Secretary of Agriculture, dated October 31, 1994 (the Memorandum of Understanding), is terminated by either party.

Duties of the Council 

Section 2. In accordance with the Cooperative Agreement effective July 29, 1994 (the Cooperative Agreement) and the Memorandum of Understanding, the Council shall conduct the following activities:

A. Needs Assessment

Develop and update annually a Needs Assessment which shall include an analysis of the rural economic/business, social, educational, health and infrastructure needs and issues prevalent in Massachusetts, a comprehensive evaluation of those needs and issues, and identification of the priorities for addressing those needs and issues. The Needs Assessment shall also contain a synopsis and discussion of impediments to long-term rural economic development, including specific state and federal statutes and regulations as identified through the Council's activities.

B. Resources Inventory

Develop and update annually a Resources Inventory which shall identify the current rural development programs and activities in Massachusetts and the organizations and entities active in rural development. The Resources Inventory shall also identify the natural, physical, human and institutional resources available to enhance the viability of rural Massachusetts.

C. Strategic Plan

Develop a Strategic Plan for the Council which shall propose short and long- term rural economic development objectives and activities to help resolve the rural development problems and issues identified through the Council meetings and related activities. The Strategic Plan shall be updated at least annually, reflecting the Council's on-going discussion of Massachusetts' rural development strategy.

D. Review and Comment on Plans and Agency Budgets

To the maximum extent feasible, review and comment on the Commonwealth's plans and agency budgets which relate to programs affecting rural residents and businesses.

E. Periodic Federal Reports

Submit to the National Rural Development Partnership in the U.S. Department of Agriculture such periodic reports on its activities as the Secretary of Agriculture may reasonably request, and keep such records and afford access thereto as the Secretary finds necessary.

F. Advocacy on Rural Issues

Serve as an advocate for municipal and county governments, citizens, for- profit businesses, not-for-profit businesses, educational institutions, tribal interests, and economic development entities in rural Massachusetts.

G. Build Capacity

Increase the capacity of the Commonwealth to respond to the social, economic, educational, health, and environmental needs of rural persons and businesses in the most humane, fair, and effective manner possible. Encourage public/private partnerships that maximize the use of limited resources.

H. State Reports

Report to the Governor and the General Court at least annually on matters pertaining to the rural areas of the Commonwealth.

I. Publication of Results

As appropriate, publish results of the strategy development efforts in conference papers, journal articles, books, research monographs, newsletters, special reports, and/or other appropriate outlets. All such publications shall explicitly acknowledge the participation and cooperation of both the Commonwealth and the federal government.

Council Composition and Operations

Section 3. A. The Council shall adopt by-laws identifying the structure, operating procedure and policies for the conduct of its business. The by-laws shall be consistent with this Order and relevant state and federal laws and regulations.

B. Public Hearings

The Needs Assessment, Resources Inventory, and Strategic Plan, and their respective updates, shall be presented to the Council in open meetings which will provide opportunity for comment by Council Members and other interested parties prior to submission to the federal government.

C. Meetings of the Council

All meetings shall comply with the provisions of the Massachusetts Open Meeting Law, G.L. Chapter 39, Sections llA and llAl/2.

D. Membership

Membership is voluntary and open to any interested individual or organization. Members will be divided into caucuses based on their interests. Caucuses will represent, at a minimum, the following nine (9) interests: State Government, Federal Government, Municipal and County Government, Educational Institutions, Regional Development Entities, For-profit Entities, Not-for-profit Entities, Tribal Organizations, and Citizens-at-large. Other caucuses may be created by the Council Executive Committee as appropriate. Newly created caucuses must be submitted to the next meeting of the Council for approval. A list of the members, the caucus to which each belongs, dates of membership, and dates of service shall be maintained by the Council.

Interested individuals or organizations must present an application for membership indicating which caucus they wish to join. The Executive Committee is the sole determining body for the classification of new members. Members may belong to only one caucus. Each caucus shall determine for itself the method of selection of its delegates to the Executive Committee and whether or not to select an alternate.

E. Executive Committee

There shall be an Executive Committee comprised as follows. The Chairperson of the Executive Committee shall serve as Chair of the Council. The federal agency host and the state agency host shall each hold an ex officio seat. The Council may designate a third agency or organization as a host agency based on its acting as the host site of the office of the Council. Each of the caucuses shall elect from its membership two members to serve on the Executive Committee for two year terms. Two at-large members shall be elected by the Executive Committee from the general membership. If the Council designates a third host agency, there shall be a third at-large member elected by the Executive Committee from the general membership. In the initial year of operation, one member from each caucus and one of the at-large delegates shall be elected for a one year term and the other for a two year term. Thereafter, all terms shall be for two years. When a delegate to the Executive Committee from a caucus leaves before completing his or her term, the caucus shall select a representative to complete the term.

The duties of the Executive Committee shall be to direct the administration of the Council, including oversight of staff, budget, and operations; to develop and implement policies and guidelines related to administrative matters; to implement and interpret general membership policies; and generally to act on behalf of the Council on items which require attention between meetings of the full Council. The Executive Committee may create sub-committees to carry out its duties and/or work on issues which require the involvement of more than one caucus. The members of the Executive Committee for the Council shall comply with the provisions of the Massachusetts Conflict of Interest Law, G.L. Chapter 268A.

F. Council Officers

The officers of the Council shall be a Chair, Vice-Chair, and Recording Secretary. All shall be selected annually from the membership of the Executive Committee by the Executive Committee. The Council Officers shall serve as the officers of the Executive Committee.

G. Reimbursement of Expenses

All reasonable and necessary expenses, including travel expenses incurred by Council and Executive Committee members in the performance of their official responsibilities, shall be reimbursed to the extent of available federal funds, in accordance with federal and state laws, regulations and guidelines, and subject to approval by the Executive Committee.

H. Interagency Cooperation

Every department, agency, and office in the Commonwealth shall cooperate with the Council. Such support may include participation in Council activities, access to policy and program personnel, and contribution of such resources as each department, agency, or office may deem appropriate.

I. Council Staff

The Council's staff shall be composed of an Executive Director and such subordinate personnel as the Council deems necessary to fulfill its responsibilities under federal law and this Executive Order.

The Council shall hire an Executive Director. The Executive Director shall report to the Council, be supervised and evaluated by the Council, and recruit, recommend for appointment, and supervise such staff as required to fulfill Council mandates and responsibilities under federal law and this Executive Order.

Duties of the Administering Agency

Section 4. The Department of Housing and Community Development or its successor agency (the Administering Agency) shall receive those funds made available to the Commonwealth through the Cooperative Agreement for the Council including, but not limited to, funds provided by grant programs for the operations and projects of the Council.

A. Powers and Duties of the Administering Agency The Administering Agency shall:

(1) receive, account for, and disburse funds on behalf of the Massachusetts Rural Development Council, in accordance with state finance law, the Cooperative Agreement and the Memorandum of Understanding.

(2) provide for such fiscal control and fund accounting procedures as may be necessary to assure the proper disbursement of and accounting for federal and state funds allocated to the Council.

(3) prepare and submit all required state and federal reports/assurances pertaining to financial, administrative and compliance issues.

(4) consult with the Council as the Council develops the Needs Assessment Resources Inventory, Strategic Plan and their respective updates as required under the Cooperative Agreement.

(5) provide office space, support services, telephone, and computer services to the Executive Director of the Council when he/she is in Boston.


Section 5. Implementation of this order is contingent upon the annual appropriation and allocation of federal and state funds. Said contribution may include in-kind and cash contributions from various agencies of the Commonwealth and Council members, and appropriation by the Legislature.

No provision herein is intended to bar the Commonwealth from participating in federal cost sharing, and any provision having the effect of inhibiting such participation is void.

Given at the Executive Chamber in Boston this 22nd day of August in the year of our Lord one thousand nine hundred and ninety-six.

William F. Weld, Governor
Commonwealth of Massachusetts

William Francis Galvin
Secretary of the Commonwealth

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