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 »
My mom raised five kids, taught high school chemistry for 15 years and then retired back to the family farm in 1986. Her new life on the farm depended on the Salisbury, MD farmers market where she sold daylilies. The farmers market, just one of 8,000 or more markets listed in USDA’s National Farmers Market Directory, gave her the opportunity she needed to start her own business.
Each Saturday she loaded up her station wagon with plants and drove into town, displaying the lilies by color. When she wanted to expand her plant offerings, my brother built her a small greenhouse. She became known as the farmers market’s Flower Lady. Read more »
Sorry Mr. Wolfe. As it turns out, you actually CAN go home again…and John Padalino recently did.
Padalino is the Administrator for the USDA Rural Utilities Service (RUS), a branch of USDA Rural Development. Born in south Tucson, Padalino grew up along the border where his father was a customs agent. Recently he was back in Tucson to facilitate a Rural Development Energy Round Table.
The round table was filled to capacity with participants that represented small businesses, solar companies, utilities, community action groups, tribes, contractors, and local governments. Read more »
Twins Katrina and Will Edwards, both age 5, and their father Tim dig into ice cream at the Kelley's Country Creamery in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin. The creamery started operations with assistance from two USDA Value Added Producer grants. USDA photo.
What is your favorite thing about summer? Is it the longer days, trips to the lake, outings to a local amusement park, or family trips to get ice cream?
For my family, one of our favorite things is taking a family outing to a local farm and creamery, Kelley’s, for some homemade ice cream and making it a point to try a different flavor each time.
The national early morning show, Good Morning America (GMA) wanted to know what America’s favorite thing about summer is, so they asked viewers and the overwhelming response was – getting ice cream with family and friends.
Since July is National Ice Cream Month, GMA decided to find and showcase America’s Best Ice Cream. Read more »
Last month, I joined Secretary Vilsack in announcing National Small Business Week on behalf of the U.S. Department of Agriculture in Louisiana. In support of rural small businesses, USDA announced several funding opportunities across the country for business owners to increase their capacity to hire new workers and expand their businesses. Small Businesses are the lifeblood of every community, but in a rural town one small business can mean the difference between a thriving main street and empty windows. This is why the work that USDA does on behalf of rural America is so important.
The state office for Rural Development is located in Central Louisiana where I met State Director Clarence Hawkins and his staff before we headed out to visit local businesses. The first stop was Consolidated Energy Holdings in Pollock. A variety of waste sources is produced by the company. Later, I had the opportunity to speak at the Cenla Small Business Appreciation Luncheon at the Central Louisiana Business Incubator in Alexandria. I was so inspired by the business incubator, which the city started as a workforce training facility for those with the desire to grow and expand their businesses. The incubator provides business owners with growth strategies, financing options, resources, and administrative support to name a few. There is an industrial kitchen available to use for food based business opportunities and specialty food producers. This incubator is the epitome of what small communities across rural America should be doing, making investments in their own citizens to foster job growth. 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 »