Agriculture Commissioner Susan Combs announced that the Texas Department of Agriculture is collaborating with AEP-West Texas Utilities and the Angelo State University Small Business Development Center to host a workshop on Wednesday, May 2 in San Angelo. The open forum will provide businesses and community leaders a chance to learn about opportunities available in rural economic development, incubators, community development, tourism and business expansion. The conference will kick off with an AEP-West Texas Utilities sponsored reception at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, May 1 at the Commissary Building at Fort Concho in San Angelo. The West Texas Economic Development workshop will begin at 7:30 a.m. on Wednesday, May 2 in the C. J. Davidson Conference Center at the Houston Harte University Center at Angelo State University. The conference is $35 per person and attendees may pre-register by calling the A.S. U. Small Business Development Center at (915) 942-2098. The “RITE Approach to Economic Development” will feature the latest in community planning, business retention, rural telecommunications and tourism initiatives that can help communities in their rural development efforts. Al Micallef, owner of JMK International, will be the featured luncheon speaker. Micallef, businessman, West Texas rancher and owner founder of the Reata Restaurants in Alpine and Los Angeles, will talk about making the most of every opportunity and how diversification has helped him to be successful. “Rural Texas faces many challenges, and by working together we can provide the knowledge and tools to help these communities and businesses overcome the obstacles and improve their economic future,” Combs said. The workshop is a result of TDA’s Sheep and Goat Economic Adjustment Strategy Study. The Economic Development Administration funded the study to assist the sheep and goat industries and communities dependent on those industries. The study and workshops are a cooperative effort among TDA, TSGRA, EDA, A&M and community leaders to improve rural economic development in Texas. Other co-sponsors of the event include San Angelo Chamber of Commerce, Concho Valley Council of Governments, Concho Valley Resource Conservation and Development and the Texas Rural Development Council.