USDA Continues Efforts Spur Job Creation and Business Growth for Tribes and Rural Communities
WASHINGTON, June 18, 2012 – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced the selection of 27 projects in 14 states to support small business and job creation opportunities and train workers in Native American communities. Janie Hipp Senior Advisor for Tribal Relations made the announcement on behalf of Secretary Vilsack while attending the National Congress of American Indians mid-year conference in Lincoln, Nebraska.
"These grants represent USDA's ongoing commitment to strengthen Tribes, tribal businesses and Tribal governments and support sustainable rural business opportunities that will create jobs," said Hipp. "The Obama Administration is working to ensure that members of Tribes have the tools they need to expand economic opportunities and improve their quality of life."
Today's announcement, follows last week's announcement by the Secretary to implement measures that will make it easier for individuals living in Substantially Underserved Trust Areas (SUTA) to obtain USDA funding to improve basic services, including water and sewer systems, broadband and electric infrastructure. These measures are a crucial step for American Indians, Alaska Natives, Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders to build modern utility infrastructure, create jobs and improve their quality of life. The enhancements are being implemented through a final regulation published in the Federal Register.
The more than $3.2 million in grants announced today is administered through USDA Rural Development's Rural Business Enterprise Grant (RBEG) program. This program provides grants for rural projects that finance the development of small and emerging rural businesses, help fund distance learning networks, and help fund employment-related adult education programs.
In Nebraska, three RBEGs were announced to help provide job opportunities and business training. The Ho-Chunk Community Development Corporation was selected to receive a $54,541 grant to provide technical assistance through the Winnebago Business Development Program. The funding will be used to conduct quilting training to enhance native crafts and expand income opportunities; conduct business plan development training to small and potential businesses owners and to purchase equipment and contract for food preparation and training. In conjunction with this training, the Little Priest Tribal College received a $40,000 grant to train Tribal members on growing, preserving and marketing agricultural products. Also in Nebraska, the First Ponca Financial, LLC received a $60,189 grant to provide technical assistance and education to Native American entrepreneurs of the Ponca Tribe of Nebraska, which encompasses service areas in Nebraska, Iowa and South Dakota.
In Tahlequah, Okla., the Cherokee Nation has been selected to receive a $252,185 grant to purchase equipment for the Cherokee Nation Arts Center to increase business opportunities for artists. This project is expected to create 10 full-time jobs, 20 part-time jobs and sustain 9 full time jobs. On June 27, the Cherokee Nation will host a Native American Food and Agriculture Roundtable Discussion as part of the White House Rural Council, bringing together tribal leaders to discuss food and agriculture and other rural economic development opportunities.
The Northern Arizona Center for Entrepreneurship and Technology was selected to receive a $96,594 grant to develop a Native American technology network. The network will provide technical assistance to members of the Navajo and Fort Apache Reservations (White Mountain Apache). The Native American entrepreneurs will be able to access a mentor network comprised of business professionals who provide pro bono services. These reservations experience an unemployment rate more than 200 percent of the state rate. This project is projected to create 10 and save 20 jobs.
Funding is contingent upon the recipient meeting the conditions of the grant agreement. The following is a complete list of organizations that have been selected to receive RBEG grants.
University of Alaska Anchorage, Small Business Development Center; $250,000
Red Feather Development Group; $33,520
Northern Arizona Technology & Business Incubator, Inc., dba Northern Arizona Center for Entrepreneurship and Technology; $96,594
Sipaulovi Community Development Corporation; $199,500
Coalition of Indian Housing Authorities of North Dakota; $160,000
Little Priest Tribal College $40,000
Ho-Chunk Community Development Corporation $54,541
First Ponca Financial, Inc. $60,189
Ramah Navajo School Board, Inc. $50,000
Wells Band of the TeMoak Tribe of Western Shoshone Indians $52,800
Moapa Band of Paiutes; $65,000
Cherokee Nation; $252,185
Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs Reservation of Oregon $30,000
Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde; $30,000
Catawba Cultural Preservation Project; $99,000
Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate $300,000
Four Bands Community Fund, Inc. $99,000
Lakota Funds, Inc.; $99,900
Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe; $37,329
Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians Economic Development; $78,250
Great Lakes Inter-Tribal Council, Inc.; $99,999
NiiJii Capital Partners, Inc.; $85,770
Since taking office, President Obama's Administration has taken historic steps to improve the lives of rural Americans, put people back to work and build thriving economies in rural communities. From proposing the American Jobs Act to establishing the first-ever White House Rural Council the President is committed to a smarter use of existing Federal resources to foster sustainable economic prosperity and ensure the government is a strong partner for businesses, entrepreneurs and working families in rural communities. The Council is working break down silos and find areas for better collaboration and improved flexibility in government programs and works closely with local governments, non-profits and private companies to leverage federal support.
USDA, through its Rural Development mission area, administers and manages housing, business and community infrastructure programs through a national network of state and local offices. Rural Development has an active portfolio of more than $170 billion in loans and loan guarantees. 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 areas.
USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer. To file a complaint of discrimination, write: USDA, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, Office of Adjudication, 1400 Independence Ave., SW, Washington, DC 20250-9410 or call (866) 632-9992 (Toll-free Customer Service), (800) 877-8339 (Local or Federal relay), (866) 377-8642 (Relay voice users).