Ajo, Arizona’s Sonoran Desert Retreat Center recently received an ArtPlace grant to promote small town vitality. The town’s annual International Day of Peace parade brings together people from the Tohono O’odahm Nation and Sonoyta, Mexico. Pictured here Eric Alegria (board chair of the Center), Lorraine Marquez Eiler of the Hla C-ed O’odham district on the Tohono O’odham Nation legislative Council, and (behind) Brian Mackenzie, the principal of the Ajo school. Photo courtesy of Tracy Taft.
As rural communities search for new and viable economic approaches, it is becoming clear that one core component of many successful rural communities is the presence of vibrant arts and cultural opportunities. Last month I had the opportunity to speak about rural arts initiatives and how USDA Rural Development is engaged with local communities and private foundations to provide awareness of our infrastructure programs and how they can assist in supporting local cultural strategies.
At the Americans for the Arts annual meeting I had the honor of representing USDA on two panels where our Rural Development programs were part of the mix. The sessions included discussion of ArtPlace, a consortium of national and regional foundations, and their efforts to support rural communities. Projects in Lanesboro, Minnesota and Ajo, Arizona are recent ArtPlace grantees, and we had the opportunity to explore ways in which USDA’s infrastructure programs might be able to leverage this new boost of philanthropic support as these communities work to demonstrate how cultural development is an essential ingredient for rural communities in the next generation. Read more »
The 1911-built Scenic Theater in Lisbon, N.D. With support from USDA, the theater, a focal point for the community, will continue to operate. USDA photo.
The Scenic Theater in Lisbon, North Dakota, like many small-town theaters, was struggling with the high cost to convert from a film to digital format. Film had been an industry standard for more than a hundred years, but Hollywood studios will stop printing on actual film by the end of the year.
Established in 1911, the Scenic is the oldest, continually operating theater in the United States. Due to the digital upgrade, theater owners, Al and Betty Michels, were worried that it would be forced to go dark for the first time. To make the transition, all new equipment would have to be purchased and installed, which would cost close to $100,000. With this daunting number, the community rallied to help preserve the historic theater. Read more »
In rural America, the local community drives the rural economy. Main Street businesses are critical to economic growth. USDA is pleased to join with the Small Business Administration to recognize and honor America’s small businesses this week, during National Small Business Week.
In rural America, the local community drives the rural economy. Main Street businesses are critical to economic growth. Money spent and invested locally rolls through a community and generates even more economic benefits.
That’s why rural small businesses are critical to strong rural communities. And it’s why USDA is pleased to join with the Small Business Administration to recognize and honor America’s small businesses this week, during National Small Business Week. Read more »
It may be spring time, but the staff of Northern Girl already has big plans for fall, when their new vegetable processing facility officially opens in Van Buren, Maine. Funded in part through a USDA Rural Development Rural Business Enterprise Grant (RBEG), the new 4,000 square foot facility will allow for the potential for year round processing of locally-grown vegetables.
This project is a really valuable asset – not only does it support a growing Maine business and 12 rural northern Maine farms, but it also puts fresh, locally-grown vegetables, “bounty from the county,” on the shelves for consumers in Maine and other parts of New England to enjoy. It reflects USDA Rural Development’s solid commitment to support local and regional food systems.
Read more »
“The Rural Business Enterprise Grant program (RBEG) is one of the most flexible economic development opportunities offered by USDA Rural Development.” Those words from New Mexico State Director Terry Brunner kicked off a webinar workshop recently to discuss the RBEG program and how to apply for funds.
In the past, here in New Mexico, the RBEG has been used to fund business incubators, feasibility studies, business plans, and it has financed technical assistance programs for business development.
Earlier this month, the staff from Rural Development’s State Office in New Mexico hosted a workshop that gave a complete overview of the RBEG program explaining the funding is made available to public bodies, nonprofit organizations, public and private nonprofit institutions of higher education, and Indian tribes to facilitate and finance the development of small and emerging private business enterprises in rural communities and cities up to 50,000 in population. Read more »
Bruce Pleasant, USDA Rural Development Business & Cooperative Program Director, facilitates the “Rural Job Maker Initiative Roundtable” held recently in Raleigh, North Carolina with more than 35 community and business stakeholders and revolving loan providers. USDA photo.
Earlier this month, USDA Rural Development staff, Intermediary Relending providers and partners held a Rural Job Maker Initiative Roundtable at the Rural Development State Office in Raleigh, North Carolina. Read more »