Veterans returning home from overseas tours-of-duty face many challenges as they readjust to civilian life, and one of the most daunting ones is finding employment. Last year, a new program — the Soldiers to Civilians (S2C) Project — was started in rural west Tennessee to give local veterans the training and skills they need to enter into the field of precision agriculture. Thanks to grant assistance from the Department of Agriculture (USDA), project leaders will now be able to expand the S2C program beyond west Tennessee to help even more veterans living in the rural delta areas of east Arkansas and west Mississippi.
The expansion was funded, in part, through USDA’s Rural Business Enterprise Grant (RBEG) program, which promotes development of small and emerging businesses in rural areas. Rural Business-Cooperative Service Administrator Lillian Salerno announced the award during a visit to the Memphis Bioworks Foundation, a bioscience-oriented nonprofit organization that is a partner on the S2C project. Memphis Bioworks is one of more than 130 projects in 30 states and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico that are receiving RBEG funds. Read more »
Acting Deputy Agriculture Secretary Michael Scuse (center) talks to reporters after announcing USDA Grant funding to help Ottawa, Illinois refurbish its downtown. Scuse said it is important to the future of rural America to get a comprehensive Food, Farm and Jobs Bill passed as soon as possible. USDA photo.
Anyone that is familiar with the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) knows of the important role that our local delivery system plays throughout the country. Farmers and residents can visit the USDA Service Center in their area to receive localized assistance. The Farm Service Agency (FSA), Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), and Rural Development (RD) staff in these offices often come together to highlight programs that each can offer and support projects in the area. This concept of One USDA was evidenced recently as representatives of these agencies welcomed the Acting Deputy Secretary of Agriculture, Michael Scuse, to Illinois.
While in Illinois, Mr. Scuse joined the Illinois Directors of FSA, NRCS and RD to visit LaSalle County. The Acting Deputy Secretary moderated a roundtable discussion with administrators and students at Illinois Valley Community College (IVCC). Topics included the President’s Climate Change Action Plan, USDA’s role in renewable energy investments, and a discussion of the need for a five-year Food, Farm and Jobs Bill. Scuse said the bill is designed to continue the expansion of America’s rural economy, and that’s a primary reason why Congress must get a comprehensive Food, Farm and Jobs Bill passed as soon as possible. Read more »
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.
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