Jessica Wirgau, Executive Director of the Community Foundation of the New River Valley and Kevin Byrd, Executive Director of the New River Valley Planning District Commission, celebrate the near completion of a successful three-year federally-funded community planning process.
One of the challenges with implementing USDA Rural Development programs is that many of the communities we serve have not had the opportunity to develop strategic plans to guide federal infrastructure investments effectively. Fortunately, a 2010 grant from HUD’s Office of Sustainable Housing and Communities enabled the New River Valley Planning District Commission to engage the public in the rural Southwest Virginia counties of Pulaski, Montgomery, Giles, and Floyd and all the major towns to develop a blueprint for future economic activity.
Earlier this month I had the opportunity to attend a meeting where over 100 rural citizens in the New River Valley gathered to put some of the finishing touches on the 3-year regional planning process, known locally as their Livability Initiative. I came away inspired by the dialogue that has evolved over the past three years and am looking forward to seeing how the communities in this economically diverse rural region look for ways to implement some of the ideas they have generated to improve their communities and enhance long-term economic opportunities. Read more »
If you are a regular USDA blog reader, you’ve heard about the new Farm to School Census, which shows the national farm to school footprint down to the school district level. With farm to school purchases topping $350 million across the country and over 38,000 schools nationwide participating in farm to school activities, local food is making marks in schools.
But who produces all that local food? How does the food make it from the farm to the lunch tray? How are farmers and ranchers getting the support they need to take advantage of this, and other, blossoming local food market opportunities? What role does the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and our federal partners play in the local food system? Read more »
Nellie Buckman is the daughter of a migrant worker. Growing up her family moved from place to place a lot. She never really had a place to call home until her adult years when she moved into a little tiny house that was originally from Igloo, South Dakota, which incidentally is located on the same lot line as her current residence which was built by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) in 1979. Over the years, the Buckmans raised 10 children in this home. The transition from the little small house to the HUD house was quite an experience for the family. The HUD house was much bigger and in the beginning, the children all slept in one bedroom until they got used to having extra space. Her children now grown, Buckman’s home continues to be a gathering place for her large family.
“I love having a place to call home, to care for, and have all of my trinkets and memories surround me,” said Nellie Buckman. Read more »
Federal, State, and Tribal partners work on a solution to bring safe, affordable housing to South Dakota’s tribal areas. USDA photo.
South Dakota USDA Rural Development, Governor’s Office of Economic Development, South Dakota Housing Development Authority (SDHDA), and the Great Plains Native Asset Building Coalition convened a vital meeting of stakeholders recently to gain input on the creation of a statewide coalition to support and promote homeownership in South Dakota Native communities.
Six of the nine Indian reservations in South Dakota, including representatives of six Indian housing authorities participated in the session, as well as Nathan Sanderson of the Governor’s Office of Economic Development. In addition to USDA Rural Development, federal stakeholders included the Departments of Housing and Urban Development, Veterans Affairs, and Indian Health Service. About 50 people gathered for a daylong working session to provide critical impute on the goals and priorities of a proposed coalition. Read more »
Memphis is emerging as a metro region where rural and urban economic opportunities suggest the need for meaningful collaborative activities. Recently, USDA staff participated in a gathering of community development workshop in Memphis where rural leaders gathered to share challenges and successes with urban counterparts. The event was sponsored by the National Association of Development Organizations (NADO), the Delta Regional Authority, and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) Office of Sustainable Housing and Communities.
Beginning in 2010, HUD began providing three-year Regional Planning grants to groups that were interested in developing long-range community plans that would help guide future federal investments in a more strategic manner. A number of those grants have been provided to communities in the Mississippi Delta region, and last week’s meeting gave the Delta Region grantees a chance to share successes and challenges of their efforts. Read more »
The inside of the newly restored courthouse and the attendees at the Grand Opening Ceremony. USDA photos.
In 2009, Bolivar County, Mississippi, Administrator William Hooker and a board-delegated crew of local leaders traveled to meet with members of Congress in Washington, D.C., to rally for the financial support to restore the Bolivar County courthouse in Rosedale, MS. They received funding for the project and on April 2, 2012 a ground breaking ceremony was held for the First Judicial District Courthouse located in Rosedale. USDA Rural Development awarded a $350,000 Recovery Act Community Facilities grant. The project also received a $350,000 Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Economic Grant, a $300,000 grant from the MS Department of Archives and History, and $300,000 from the Bolivar County Board of Supervisors. A majority of the money went towards improving the building’s weakening foundation. Installing a new roof and a number of interior retouches were also big parts of the restoration. Read more »