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Posts tagged: Clarence Hawkins

USDA, Helping Small Rural Businesses Grow and Create Jobs

Last month, I joined Secretary Vilsack in announcing National Small Business Week on behalf of the U.S. Department of Agriculture in Louisiana. In support of rural small businesses, USDA announced several funding opportunities across the country for business owners to increase their capacity to hire new workers and expand their businesses. Small Businesses are the lifeblood of every community, but in a rural town one small business can mean the difference between a thriving main street and empty windows. This is why the work that USDA does on behalf of rural America is so important.

The state office for Rural Development is located in Central Louisiana where I met State Director Clarence Hawkins and his staff before we headed out to visit local businesses. The first stop was Consolidated Energy Holdings in Pollock. A variety of waste sources is produced by the company. Later, I had the opportunity to speak at the Cenla Small Business Appreciation Luncheon at the Central Louisiana Business Incubator in Alexandria. I was so inspired by the business incubator, which the city started as a workforce training facility for those with the desire to grow and expand their businesses. The incubator provides business owners with growth strategies, financing options, resources, and administrative support to name a few. There is an industrial kitchen available to use for food based business opportunities and specialty food producers. This incubator is the epitome of what small communities across rural America should be doing, making investments in their own citizens to foster job growth. Read more »

Rural Development Officials Seek Input on Ways to Create Jobs, Improve Housing Opportunities in Louisiana

USDA Rural Development Housing Administrator Tammye Trevino and Rural Development Louisiana State Director Clarence Hawkins kick-started the new year by holding a White House Business Council Stakeholder’s meeting in Luling, Louisiana, located in St. Charles Parish near New Orleans.  The focus of the stakeholder’s meeting was rural housing.  The focus fit perfectly in line with Administrator Trevino’s primary reason for visiting Louisiana.

Administrator Trevino, along with Bryan Hooper, Deputy Administrator of USDA’s Multi-Family Housing Division each served as presenters on the Council for Affordable and Rural Housing (CARH) 2012 mid-year meeting in New Orleans.  CARH is a national nonprofit trade organization focusing on issues affecting rural housing.  The theme for this year’s meeting was “Transforming Rural Housing: Innovative Tools and Dynamic Initiatives for Tomorrow.” Read more »

A Louisiana Bank Leverages USDA Rural Development Funds to Build a Hotel and Create Jobs

Recently, about 150 people came out to show their support for the new Hampton Inn & Suites of Marksville at their grand opening in Avoyelles Parish in Louisiana. USDA Rural Development State Director Clarence W. Hawkins joined Thomas G. Christopoulos (owner) along with representatives from Cenla Chambers of Commerce; Daniel Decuir, Marksville Mayor Pro Tem; and other dignitaries to introduce the new 77 room hotel to the city. The hotel will provide an estimated 15 new jobs for area residents.

“Rural Development will continue to invest in the development of our rural communities throughout the State of Louisiana,” said State Director Hawkins. This new hotel will impact the Town of Marksville by creating jobs, furnishing accommodations for the overflow of visitors and it is the first brand name hotel to come to Marksville, Louisiana. Read more »

USDA Rural Development Travels the Roads of Louisiana to Connect with Community Officials and Residents

Louisiana Municipal Association Executive Director Tom Ed McHugh (Left) and Rural Development State Director, Clarence W. Hawkins at a recent outreach meeting in Louisiana.

Louisiana Municipal Association Executive Director Tom Ed McHugh (Left) and Rural Development State Director, Clarence W. Hawkins at a recent outreach meeting in Louisiana.

As part of USDA’s commitment to outreach, Louisiana Rural Development State Director Clarence Hawkins and staff went “on the road” with the Louisiana Municipal Association in June and July to continue reaching out to municipal officials across the state. These meetings were hosted by LMA’s district vice presidents in Louisiana. Read more »

SDA Rural Development and the Farm Service Agency Host A Louisiana Roundtable on Jobs and Economic Growth

The United States Department of Agriculture Rural Development and Farm Service Agency in Louisiana hosted a Jobs and Economic Growth Roundtable in Alexandria, bringing together more than 30 community leaders, business owners, and residents from across the state to discuss what is needed to create jobs and economic development in rural Louisiana.

“This is in response to a request from President Obama” said Clarence Hawkins, Rural Development State Director and moderator of the roundtable. “The Obama Administration is currently exploring every avenue available to foster job creation and USDA Rural Development has been tasked nationally to take the lead in this effort. Your input in identifying obstacles and opportunities will be provided to the United States Department of Agriculture Secretary, Tom Vilsack, and to the White House.”

The discussion centered on infrastructure, spanning the need for better transportation to possible solutions in developing more production ready sites. The group identified Louisiana’s strengths which included health care, energy services, and law enforcement. Obstacles discussed included lack of a skilled workforce, lack of capital for small businesses, and the need to further develop and strengthen the state’s infrastructure. Much discussion centered around the impact on Louisiana’s forest industry with recent paper mill closings in the state.

USDA officials discussed the resources that are invested in Louisiana including funds for housing, businesses, community infrastructure and facilities, broadband, farming, biomass, and conservation. These all create jobs. All agreed in the importance of state and federal agencies collaborating to educate each and every rural community in the state.

In summary, Hawkins stated, “This group identified a serious need for additional funds to renovate and develop infrastructure, as that serves as the foundation for us to attract the industries that will provide the jobs we need in Louisiana.”

job forum louisianaUSDA Rural Development Louisiana State Director Clarence W. Hawkins welcomes attendees to the Roundtable on Jobs and Economic Growth held Tuesday, January 26, 2010, in Alexandria, Louisiana

job forum louisiana
Some of the attendees at the Roundtable on Jobs and Economic Growth held Tuesday, January 26, 2010, in Alexandria, Louisiana, sponsored by USDA Rural Development and USDA Farm Service Agency

Submitted by Karen Nardini on behalf of Clarence W. Hawkins, State Director, USDA Rural Development, Louisiana

To learn more, go to the Rural Development and FSA Job Roundtables Schedule, and the News Release, “USDA to Host Roundtables on Jobs, Economic Growth