Recently, in Dodgeville, Wisconsin, USDA Rural Development hosted a “Partners in Building Community Forum” in which the primary focus was to generate ideas that would promote job growth in Wisconsin. Over the past three years, USDA Rural Development has helped to create or save more than 1450 jobs in Southwestern Wisconsin alone.
The forum explored regional efforts and partnerships, in conjunction with USDA Rural Development’s assistance, that have contributed to economic development, job creation/sustainability, and the expansion of necessary community services, on a regional level, in Southwestern Wisconsin.
“While this forum provides an opportunity to reflect on some pretty significant accomplishments in this region, there is still much to be done. We need to look for ways to build new partnerships, gain greater cooperation between federal, state, and local governments, add value and diversity to our productive capacity and build rural communities that will last,” said Stan Gruszynski, USDA Rural Development State Director.
USDA Rural Development assisted 29 businesses and producers, helping to created more than 780 jobs. This includes a Value Added Producer Grant to Willow Creek Farms Charcuterie, Inc., an old fashioned purebred Berkshire hog farm in Prairie du Sac, Wis., to provide working capital to expand products and market penetration.
In addition, more than $11.8 million went to support critical projects including schools, hospitals, and first responder equipment through the Community Facilities Program, in 31 communities. For example, the Village of Gays Mills was awarded $1,383,800 in loans and grants in disaster recovery from the 2008 floods, and to assist in moving the village to higher ground. Projects include; new village community center, fire truck, snowplow equipment and public works building.
Guest Speakers explained current efforts, and the positive affect they have had on improving the economic climate in Southwestern Wis. The organizations represented cited the successful use of Rural Development programs to expand needed community services, create jobs, and promote economic development.
Those attending the event also toured the new Southwest Community Action Program (SWCAP) offices and expanded dental clinic facility, currently under construction. A USDA Rural Development Community Facilities Direct Loan helped to fund the project. The existing facility was inadequate for the volume of patients in the area that need medical and dental services. To help fulfill this need, SWCAP has partnered with Access Community Health Center for the purpose of providing essential dental services to low income families.
The S.W. Wisconsin “Partners in Building Community Forum” is the first of a series of forums Rural Development is planning in rural regions of interest across Wisconsin in conjunction with Regional Planning Councils and other partners with shared missions.