The Bois Forte Tribe in northeastern Minnesota has taken a proactive approach toward economic development. As recently as 10 years ago, there were areas of the Bois Forte community that did not have safe and sanitary drinking water. Building safe and affordable housing for tribal members also was an issue, along with other infrastructure and facility needs.
Tribal leaders formed a valuable partnership with USDA Rural Development in the mid-90s. The partnership has resulted in modern infrastructure, updated facilities, and more affordable housing being built in the community. Bois Forte is now recognized for its dedication toward economic development and improving the quality of life for tribal members.
“It’s amazing to see the dedication and passion that Bois Forte puts into improving its community,” said Colleen Landkamer, USDA Rural Development State Director in Minnesota. “Bois Forte understands how housing, infrastructure and essential community facilities intertwine to create sustainable and livable communities.”
Since 1994, Rural Development has invested over $13.5 million throughout the Bois Forte community. Projects include funding to deliver safe drinking water to new affordable housing developments, equipment for a tribal fitness center, utility vehicles and equipment, and gap financing for tribal businesses.
“Through our partnership with the USDA, we’ve been able to build the infrastructure necessary to develop residential neighborhoods and complete other projects,” said Kevin Leecy, Bois Forte Tribal Chair. “The partnership is a win-win for our people and the economic growth of the broader community.”
Most recently, Rural Development awarded a $100,000 loan and grant to finance the purchase of a new snow plow for the reservation. In 2009, a $2.5 million loan and grant helped deliver water and sewer services to over 100 new homes in the Lake Vermillion portion of the Bois Forte community.