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News Release

Release No. 0484.10
Weldon Freeman (202) 690-1384

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Secretary Vilsack Announces Awards to Support Regional Economic Development Strategies

At Brookings Institute Conference, Vilsack Highlights USDA Initiative to Promote Job Creation and Rural Regional Innovation

WASHINGTON, Sept. 23, 2010 –Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced a series of awards that reflect the Obama administration's support for rural communities coming together to develop economic development strategies that will create jobs and build robust regional economies.

"Helping communities come together to address their needs regionally and collaboratively will mean a more efficient use of scarce federal resources," Vilsack said during a speech at a Brookings Institution conference on regional innovation. "As we seek to use existing resources more effectively, regionally focused economic development efforts will take advantage of locally-identified strengths to create jobs and help businesses expand in America's rural communities."

Projects funded as part of USDA's regional initiative will focus on strategic planning activities to improve economic conditions in rural areas, particularly in underserved communities. The initiative will help communities to connect and cluster their economies geographically based on their self-identified strengths, so they are able to increase productivity and build more robust, sustainable economies.

Today, Secretary Vilsack announced funding from two USDA Rural Development programs: Broadband funding through a Recovery Act program to help communities work together on a regional basis to develop strategic plans to attract broadband investment and best use their broadband capability for sustainable economic development, and the Rural Business Opportunity Grants program which support regional planning activities to improve economic conditions in rural areas.

For example, the California Association of Resource Conservation and Development Councils has been selected to receive a $250,000 Rural Development Rural Business Opportunity Grant to develop a regional food system, add value to livestock processing and marketing, utilize biomass, and develop renewable energy and agricultural resources. The association will work with researchers, educators and economic development professionals from 18 organizations. The association is comprised of 11 councils that provide economic and natural resource conservation aid throughout California.

In South Dakota, the Lower Brule Sioux Tribe has been selected to receive a $195,750 Broadband Initiatives Program technical assistance grant to design a broadband network and build a state-of-the-art data center on tribal land. The client base for the data center will include customers who choose to locate their operations on tribal lands.

Also today, Secretary Vilsack announced the availability of $6.2 million in technical assistance to help rural communities develop their capacity to undertake economic development, housing and community facilities projects. The money will be provided through USDA Rural Development's Rural Community Development Initiative. This program includes a focus on projects that will help develop and build strong regional economies.

Below is a list of applicants selected for funding, which is contingent upon recipients meeting the terms of their grant agreements. USDA values the commitment made by all of the applicants toward developing greater regional collaboration. Applicants who were not selected for Rural Business Opportunity Grant awards will be contacted by USDA in the coming weeks to explore how USDA and other Federal agencies may be able to help these communities further their regional efforts and strengthen their regional plans for future opportunities.

Rural Business Opportunity Grants


Tanana Chiefs Conference – $32,567


White Mountain Apache Tribe – $125,000


California Association of Resource Conservation and Development Councils – $250,000

Bishop Paiute Tribe – $125,000


Coeur d'Alene Tribe – $106,925


Golden Hills Resource Conservation and Development – $83,000


Four Directions Development Corporation – $250,000


Ho-Chunk Community Development Corporation – $76,070

New York

Sullivan County – $65,000

Sullivan Alliance – $221,077

Tioga County REAP, LDC – $111,400

North Dakota

Bottineau County EDC – $66,250

City of New England – $73,253

Prairie West Development – $74,000

City of Rolette – $29,500

Roosevelt-Cluster Regional Council – $78,700


Wind Hollow Foundation – $50,000


Ecotrust – $249,340

South Carolina

Northeastern Strategic Alliance, Inc. – $50,000

South Dakota

The Harvest Initiative, Inc. – $50,000


Paiute Indian Tribe of Utah – $50,000


Northern Community Investment Corp. – $147,020

Northeast Kingdom Travel and Tourism Association – $43,000

Northeast Forest Center – $25,000

Northeast Vermont Development Association – $55,800


Columbia Pacific Resources Conservation & Development – $50,000


Wind River Development Fund – $50,000

Broadband Initiative Program Technical Assistance Grants


Central Council of the Tlingit & Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska – $153,112


Ute Mountain Ute Tribe – $200,000


Shoshone-Bannock Tribes – $115,000


Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe ¬– $47,380

Northeast Service Cooperative – $200,000


Arizona Nevada Tower Corporation - $164,300


Benton Ridge Telephone Company – $175,000

Consolidated Electric Cooperative – $200,000


Cherokee Nation – $200,000

Kaw Nation-Kaw Enterprise Development Authority – $177,500

Pioneer Long Distance, Inc. – $195,000


Warm Springs Telecommunications Company – $200,000

South Carolina

County of Orangeburg – $199,920

South Dakota

Lower Brule Sioux Tribe – $195,750

Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate – $165,000

Utah and Nevada

Confederated Tribes of the Goshute Reservation – $200,000


Scott County Telephone Cooperative – $199,920


Jamestown S'Klallam Tribe – $196,320

Quinault Indian Nation – $200,000

Through its Rural Development mission area, USDA administers and manages more than 40 housing, business and community infrastructure and facility programs through a network of 6,100 employees located in the nation's capital and 500 state and local offices. These programs are designed to improve the economic stability of rural communities, businesses, residents, farmers, and ranchers and improve the quality of life in rural America. Rural Development has an existing portfolio of more than $142 billion in loans and loan guarantees.


USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer and lender. To file a complaint of discrimination, write: USDA, Director, Office of Civil Rights, 1400 Independence Ave., S.W., Washington, D.C. 20250-9410 or call (800) 795-3272 (voice), or (202) 720-6382 (TDD).