Recently, Rural Cooperative Development funding helped to reopen a local Nebraska grocery store. The story goes like this.
The loss of a grocery store in a rural community can be a devastating blow, especially when it is the only, or at least major, source of local groceries. Not only do people then have to travel farther and expend more time and money to get their groceries, but it can also make it difficult on community pride and make it harder to attract new residents and businesses.
When the only grocery store in Elwood, Neb., closed in January of 2012, community leaders quickly responded, organizing a community meeting to consider opening a cooperatively owned grocery store. Jim Crandall of the UNL Nebraska Cooperative Development Center (NCDC), which receives funding from USDA Rural Development’s Rural Cooperative Development Grants, was the primary speaker at this first meeting to explain the concept of community ownership as a cooperative. The meeting attracted more than 100 people, almost all of whom felt that a grocery store was vital to the future of their community. Prior to and following the initial meeting, community leaders developed and distributed a survey to gauge interest in opening a co-op grocery store. The community response showed widespread support for the concept. A committed, hard-working steering committee was formed to begin the process of studying the feasibility of a grocery store, the cooperative business model, and creating pro-forma financials. Read more »
Earlier this month, USDA Rural Development-Puerto Rico held an Intermediary Relending Program Roundtable meeting for area stakeholders.
Our staff provided a brief overview of the program followed by a very dynamic question and answer session. The most significant issues discussed were the current barriers to access capital for small businesses and the need to complement their services offerings through common inter-organizational effort.
The main objective of the meeting was to gather all main Intermediary Relending organizations and share their current best practices and current lending challenges. The meeting also proved to be an excellent opportunity to make services networking, exchange organizational information and identify new funding opportunities. Read more »
Nebraska Northwest Development Corporation (NNDC) is located in Chadron, Nebraska and serves the three northwest Nebraska counties of Dawes, Sheridan and Sioux. NNDC approached USDA Rural Development in need of additional revolving loan funds as the previous Rural Business Enterprise Grant (RBEG) was unable to keep up with the need for loan funds in this area of the state.
Building on previous discussions between Rural Development and NNDC, it was clear the amount of funds needed to significantly impact local entrepreneurs would best be served through an Intermediary Relending Program (IRP) loan. An IRP application request in the amount of $250,000 was submitted to USDA and, following a national competition, was selected for funding. Read more »
From June first through the eighth, USDA will host faculty and staff from the 32 land-grant tribal colleges and universities (TCUs) that work in the areas of agriculture, conservation, science, or community development to participate in the USDA Land-Grant Development/Tribal Fellowship Program, a key component of the Terra Preta do Indio Tribal Fellowship Suite. The USDA 1994 Tribal Land-Grant Colleges and Universities Program office works with land-grant TCUs to develop their land-grant capacities and rural tribal economies to ensure the US’ food security. In order to achieve this mission, the Department offers accepted applicants a Tribal Fellowship, a one-week intensive workshop which includes the cost of travel, lodging, and per diem.
Over the course of the workshop, Fellows learn about programs and resources available throughout USDA and where and how to access them. They have an opportunity to exchange ideas with their colleagues, ask questions of specialists, and to consider which of the resources discussed might benefit their institutions. Fellows apply their knowledge by developing or revisiting their strategic plan to address the needs of their 1994 tribal land-grant college in the areas of agriculture, conservation, and the development of their rural communities – in collaboration with their institutions tribal community and with support from our staff and USDA service centers. Read more »
After 40 years, the John Deere dealership in Ashley, North Dakota has moved, but not far. About a mile down the road, over 250 people recently gathered to celebrate the grand opening of Green Iron Equipment’s new $2 million facility. USDA Rural Development helped finance the project by partnering with a local cooperative, KEM Electric. Through the Rural Economic Development Loan Program, Green Iron Equipment received a $740,000 loan.
The original dealership consisted of four separate buildings in downtown Ashley. Two of those structures housed small service shops that could not accommodate large farm machinery. Read more »
WormFarm’s autumn D’Tour project in Sauk County, Wisconsin (Photo courtesy of WormFarm. Used with permission.)
As part of USDA’s effort to partner with foundations and increase investments in rural America, the Department has been working with the National Endowment for the Arts and Artplace to maximize grants that are being made in rural communities. ArtPlace is a non-profit organization which implements a funding pool from thirteen national and regional foundations and six national banks. In the past two years ArtPlace has invested nearly $30 million to support organizations aiming to improve their communities through creative place-making. Read more »