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South Dakota Regionalism Road Trip

It could be that the holiday season is approaching or winter weather in South Dakota, but three different regional meetings were held this last week highlighting differently funded projects.  The common theme to these projects is that South Dakota organizations and agencies have heard the call towards regional work to support rural economic development.

If you were in Bismarck, ND, on December 12th you could have attended the Upper Missouri Tribal Environmental Risk Mitigation (UM TERM) project kick off meeting.  This project was recently awarded $1.7 million as part of Obama Administration’s “Jobs and Innovation Accelerator Challenge.”  This multi-agency collaboration supports the advancement of 20 high-growth, regional industry clusters in the upper Missouri River region of South Dakota, North Dakota and Montana.  Funding was provided by the agencies; US Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration, Economic Development Administration and Small Business Administration.  USDA Rural Development staff from both South Dakota and North Dakota was at the table to offer their assistance.

On December 13th, you could have attended the Oyate Omniciye’, Oglala Lakota Plan consortium meeting in western South Dakota.  Thunder Valley Community Development Corporation was awarded a Sustainable Communities Planning Grant in 2010 by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.  The Consortium represents many kinds of organizations, agencies and governments who support the project.  USDA Rural Development staff makes up the group of federal partners working to assist with the success of the plan.

At the other end of the state, the Regional Economic Development Web-based Technical Assistance project meeting was being held on December 14th.  This project is funded through the Rural Business Enterprise Grant (RBEG) and Rural Business Opportunity Grant (RBOG) from South Dakota USDA Rural Development.  A regional economic development website will provide a central link to local organizations located in the northeastern part of the state that do not have staff or expertise as well as web-based technical assistance for the partnering organizations.

South Dakota USDA Rural Development State Director, Elsie M. Meeks states, “Regionalism was not just the theme of the week here in South Dakota; USDA Rural Development has a long term commitment towards innovative and collaborative ways of addressing the needs of its communities.”

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