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Posts tagged: Rural Development

Deputy Secretary Discusses Food Hubs, New Orleans Style

Nathan Cann volunteers at Hollygrove Market and Farm (HGMF) in exchange for a box of fresh produce valued at $25.00 in New Orleans, LA on Tuesday, Feb. 26, 2013. USDA photo by Karen Lawson.

Nathan Cann volunteers at Hollygrove Market and Farm (HGMF) in exchange for a box of fresh produce valued at $25.00 in New Orleans, LA on Tuesday, Feb. 26, 2013. USDA photo by Karen Lawson.

New Orleans is known for many special things, not the least of which is its food.

That’s why Deputy Secretary of Agriculture Kathleen Merrigan chose the crescent city this week to release a new report on the importance of food hubs in America.  The report finds that there is an increasing demand for fresh, local foods and the popularity of food hubs is growing quickly.  In fact, there are well over 200 across the country now, including Hollygrove Farm and Market in downtown New Orleans. Read more »

South Dakota Stronger Economies Together Training Provides an Opportunity to Plan Regionally

Come to Wall Drug! From the far reaches of the nation, these words are on billboards beckoning visitors to come and experience this tourist hotspot in Wall, South Dakota.  Community members that make up the Bad River/Badlands region in western South Dakota were in Wall this month for a different reason.

A training team made up of staff from South Dakota USDA Rural Development and South Dakota State University Extension were on hand to deliver the third training of a nine part series as part of the Stronger Economies Together (SET) regional economic development initiative. Read more »

USDA Funding Helps Reopen a Town’s Only Grocery Store

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 »

USDA Promotes Business Development Efforts in Puerto Rico

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 »

USDA Funds Help Solidify Nebraska Businesses Needs

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 »

USDA Land-Grant Development/Tribal Fellowship Program accepting Applications

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 »