WASHINGTON, June 12, 2014 – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced the selection of 48 community-based organizations in 26 states, the District of Columbia and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico for grants to promote economic growth, support rural business development and create jobs.
"These grants will bring increased economic opportunities to rural residents and communities by strengthening the capacity of regional organizations to help small and emerging businesses," Vilsack said. "They also will help organizations experienced in economic development create more job opportunities for rural residents across the country."
USDA is making the investments through the Rural Community Development Initiative Program (RCDI). It helps community-based development organizations, federally recognized Indian tribes and other groups promote economic growth in low-income, rural communities. Recipients are required to obtain matching funds, which increase the value of the grants. USDA does not provide the grants directly to businesses or individuals. Instead, the Agency awards the money to public or non-profit intermediaries. Much of the RCDI funding is regional in nature and underscores USDA's support of locally-based development strategies.
Here are some ways these grants will help rural communities. In Sacramento, Calif., the Rural Community Assistance Corporation will use a $152,492 grant to help local leaders implement community development initiatives. It also will teach community developers how to leverage resources to increase the supply of Tribal housing.
The Champaign County Regional Planning Commission, in Urbana, Ill., will receive a $71,375 grant to build the capacity of 23 municipal government boards in Champaign, Douglas, Ford, Iroquois, Piatt and Vermillion counties in east central Illinois. Board members will receive training in governing, planning and economic development.
In Concord, N.H., the Northern Forest Center, Inc. will use a $107,956 grant to provide workforce development and business training services to tourism businesses in the Maine Woods region.
Under today's announcement, USDA is providing $6.7 million to strengthen local and regional economic development enterprises. Funding for recipients announced today is contingent upon the grantee meeting the terms of the grant agreement.
The Rural Community Development Initiative program has a proven history of bringing economic benefits to rural communities. In 2012, the Iowa Economic Development Authority (IEDA) used a $200,000 RCDI grant to help more than 50 non-profit recipients develop marketing and branding strategies for community assets. Local groups learned how to collect and review demographic data, and to identify business retention, expansion and recruitment strategies. This process, dubbed "Re-Energizing Main Street's Economic Performance," helped implement a revitalization and growth plan for downtown businesses.
President Obama's plan for rural America has brought about historic investment and resulted in stronger rural communities. Under the President's leadership, these investments in housing, community facilities, businesses and infrastructure have empowered rural America to continue leading the way – strengthening America's economy, small towns and rural communities. USDA's investments in rural communities support the rural way of life that stands as the backbone of our American values.
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