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 »
Federal partners working with Thunder Valley CDC: Left to right: Guadalupe M. Herrera,HUD Region VIII Sustainability Officer; Scott Moore, Thunder Valley CDC Project Coordinator & Architect; Nick Tilsen,Thunder Valley CDC Executive Director; Shelley Poticha, Director of the HUD Office of Sustainable Housing and Communities, and Christine Sorensen-South Dakota USDA Rural Development staff.
South Dakota USDA Rural Development State Director Elsie Meeks joined the Thunder Valley Community Development Corporation (CDC), and other consortium members recently on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation of southwestern South Dakota to discuss next steps for the Oyate Omniciye | Oglala Lakota Plan. The regional planning process and the collaboration of a broad cross-section of regional stakeholders have created a regional plan for sustainable development and acts as a tool to begin implementation. One of the 12 initiatives identified in the Plan includes the creation of a Regional Planning Office. State Director Meeks attended the recent consortium meeting regarding the Regional Planning Office, stating “The planning team assembled by Thunder Valley CDC and diverse membership of the consortium have created a framework for sustainability; a regional plan that will allow for a coordination of resources and support.” Read more »
Greg Sprow about to start construction for the day on his home in Shippensburg, Pennsylvania. Sprow and other homeowners in his neighborhood were able to get their part of the American Dream with the help of a Self-Help Housing Loan through the United States Department of Agriculture, Rural Development, Self-Help Housing Loan Program. One requirement in the contract is that owners of homes in the neighborhood help each other with the construction of each other's homes.
“As we determine the future of federal spending, ensuring adequate housing in rural America must be a priority”- that was the statement that many folks, including Under Secretary Dallas Tonsager echoed at the 2012 National Rural Housing Conference, held last week in Washington DC. Read more »
It will take months for New York to recover from the impact of Hurricane Sandy. (photo credit: W.M. Shelley).
When the state first heard the news about a storm possibly hitting the East Coast, many people in New York did not know what to expect. Would it make landfall before New York? Would it take a turn and dissipate over the Atlantic Ocean? Forecasters had predicted that the storm would deliver “severe winds, rain and even the potential of life-threatening flooding throughout the Eastern seaboard.” As New York City began widespread evacuations and shuttered the City’s transit system, the state collectively held its breath. Read more »
Three years ago this fall, Secretary Vilsack and I launched the Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food initiative (KYF2). Since then, we’ve seen interest and participation in local and regional food systems grow beyond anything we expected: whether I’m meeting with buffalo ranchers from the Great Plains or with members of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, I hear about efforts to connect producers and consumers locally and interest in how USDA can help.
In meetings of the White House Rural Council, which has representatives from across the federal government, regional food systems have been a key part of discussions. Read more »