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USDA Rural Development-Iowa and the Small Business Administration take steps to re-establish partnerships with Sac and Fox Tribe

Representatives of USDA Rural Development and the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) recently met with leaders from the Sac and Fox Tribe of Mississippi in Iowa to share information on ways the two federal agencies could assist the tribe with funds for such things as community improvement projects and job-creation and entrepreneurial opportunities.

The meeting was held at the tribal headquarters outside Tama, Iowa, and was a great opportunity to discuss several USDA Rural Development and SBA programs that are available to rural communities, including the Meskwaki Settlement.  Tribal leaders also expressed their needs and explained the types of funding challenges they typically experience.

Several ideas surfaced during the meeting including a need for improved childcare, police equipment and a cultural center.  The tribe’s new high school and health clinic are wonderful facilities, they said.  However, broadband connections could be expanded for increased distance learning and telemedicine applications.  Broadband access is an important component to future plans for the community and for potential business that could expand on the Settlement.

Several ways in which the agencies could assist businesses were discussed, including growing and marketing local foods for healthier diets, establishing revolving loan funds, and loan guarantees. Also, USDA’s Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) could assist the tribe in generating green energy from local wind turbines.  The tribe is currently recording the wind conditions to determine the feasibility of placing wind turbines on their settlement.

This meeting was  a tremendous step forward as USDA Rural Development and SBA work together to identify ways to help the tribe meet their long-term goals of increasing job opportunities and small business development for tribal members.

November is National American Indian and Alaska Native Heritage Month to read President Obama’s proclamation click here.  To find out more about USDA programs, news and tribal outreach efforts click here.

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