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Leveraging USDA Resources Has Positive Impact On Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate’s Economy

Pictured standing left to right: Sonya Lawrence – homeowner; Rural Development Area Specialist Roxanne Woodring; Rural Development Area Director Bruce Jones; Lincoln and Devola Bird and family - homeowners; JC Crawford - Native Homes (Contractor); Dustin LaFromboise and family – homeowners; Jasmin Zetina and family – homeowners; Homes Are Possible, Inc. Executive Director Jeff Mitchell; kneeling left to right: family of homeowner Sonya Lawrence (2 children kneeling at left); Angie Johnson - SWO Homeowner Program; Christina Eberhart - homeowner; Rural Development Area Specialist Janell Telin; and Robert LaCroix and family – homeowners….five of the families will have homes in the subdivision of Long Hollow on the SWO reservation and one family will have a home in Watertown.

I was honored to attend the Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate Annual Homebuyers Fair on June 20, 2012 in Sisseton, South Dakota.  Although the previous evening and early morning rain saturated the ground, it didn’t stop the Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate from having a successful event. June is homeownership month, and  USDA Rural Development was on-site at the fair to remind rural residents of the opportunities to purchase, repair and refinance homes in rural areas.

In conjunction with the Homebuyers Fair, a tour of the Tribe’s Lake Traverse Reservation was held that included a variety of stops that highlighted the tribe’s infrastructure improvements.  I was pleased to see that through the steadfast efforts of Tribal and USDA Rural Development staff, the tribe has successfully utilized many of Rural Development’s programs, including a recent $32 million direct Community Facility loan being used to construct the Tribe’s new Administration Building, slated for completion in June of 2013.

Long Hollow Housing Development

Rural Development has invested in a number of projects on the reservation and has been a strong partner working collaboratively with the Tribe and individual entities contributing to economic growth, modernizing infrastructure, creating and saving jobs and improving the quality of life in many Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate communities.

Janell Telin, USDA Rural Development Area Specialist, Aberdeen, SD

I was also thrilled to celebrate the Tribe’s recent $300,000 Rural Business Enterprise Grant program award, which the tribe will use to establish a revolving loan fund and to provide technical assistance to rural businesses throughout the reservation.

During the luncheon program, USDA Rural Development Area Specialist, Janell Telin, was honored by the tribe for her unwavering dedication and ongoing assistance to the Tribe through the presentation of a handmade star quilt.  USDA Rural Development State Director, Elsie Meeks, also named Janell the Rural Development South Dakota employee of the quarter, in part for her outstanding service to the Tribe.

Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate Tribal Administration Building

It was remarkable to witness all the progress the Tribe has made not only in the area of housing – but in the community as a whole – from schools, health care, transportation, new and improved water systems and multi-family rental properties, all increasing economic opportunity for the Tribe and its members.  These sound investments provide community members with safety, security, well being, and a sense of great pride. None of these accomplishments were easy – but it was affirming to witness all that has been accomplished through the years and know that the joint efforts of the Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate and USDA Rural Development have together provided a better future for the communities and Tribal members in this remote corner of north eastern South Dakota.

To learn more about how USDA Rural Development provides support for rural communities, click here.

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