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USDA Recognized by the National Trust for Historic Preservation for Its Work to Revitalize, Strengthen America's Rural Main Streets
DES MOINES, Iowa, May 25, 2011 - Agriculture Under Secretary for Rural Development Dallas Tonsager today was presented with the 2011 Main Street Leadership Award by the National Trust for Historic Preservation in honor of USDA's support to revitalize rural commercial areas. He accepted the award on behalf of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.
"USDA, and especially the Rural Development mission area, is honored to receive this prestigious award from the National Trust for Historic Preservation" said Tonsager. "Main street America drives the rural economy. Our work with the Trust helps ensure that the nation's small town main streets are restored as vibrant and economic engines of their communities. A healthy main street is a sign of a strong, growing local economy."
The National Trust Main Street Leadership Award is presented annually and recognizes individuals or organizations that have provided strong leadership either locally or nationally in making significant, lasting contributions to commercial district revitalization; inspiring actions that can be duplicated in other communities; and making long-term contributions to a community's revitalization over time.
USDA was recognized for its support through the Rural Community Development Initiative (RCDI) and the Rural Business Enterprise Grant (RBEG) program which seek to create jobs, strengthen business, offer training and financial assistance to local entrepreneurs in rural communities. The goal of the RCDI program is to develop the capacity and ability of private, nonprofit community-based housing and community development organizations, and low- income rural communities to undertake projects related to housing, community facilities, community and economic development projects in rural areas. For more information visit http://www.rurdev.usda.gov/HAD-RCDI_Grants.html
The RBEG program provides grants for rural projects that finance and facilitate development of small and emerging rural businesses help fund distance learning networks, and help fund employment related adult education programs. To learn more about this program, visit http://www.rurdev.usda.gov/BCP-LoanAndGrants.html
For example, in 2009, Main Street Momence (Momence, Ill.) received a $99,000 Rural Business Enterprise Grant (RBEG) as seed capital to establish a revolving loan fund that businesses in the area could use to revitalize the Main Street. The local government of Kankakee County matched the federal funding with $50,000. Four neighborhood businesses used their loans to refurbish, expand, and maintain their businesses and helped create or save 27 full time jobs 20 part-time jobs.
USDA, through its Rural Development mission area, administers and manages housing, business and community infrastructure and facility programs through a national network of 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 $150 billion in loans and loan guarantees. Visit http://www.rurdev.usda.gov for additional information about the agency's programs or to locate the USDA Rural Development office nearest you.
USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer and lender. To file a complaint of discrimination, write: USDA, Director, Office of Civil Rights, 1400 Independence Avenue, SW, Washington, DC 20250-9410 or call (800) 795-3272 (voice), or (202) 720-6382 (TDD).