Alexandria, LA, Apr 06, 2011 -- USDA Rural Development, in conjunction with the Southern Rural Development Center, the Cooperative Extension Service, Louisiana Economic Development, and other key community/economic development organizations and agencies in the state, has released Phase Two details of the Stronger Economies Together (SET) Initiative. SET is a program designed to help strengthen the capacity of communities/counties/parishes in rural America to work together in developing and implementing an economic development blueprint for their multi-parish region, one that strategically builds on the current and emerging economic strengths and patterns of the region. The SET program is an opportunity for current or newly formed multi-parish teams to receive the latest tools, training, and technical assistance to help their region move forward and take advantage of positive growth and quality of life opportunities.
Louisiana was one of eight states to participate in Phase One of SET and is the only Phase One state participating in Phase Two. Of the eight states participating in Phase One, Louisiana is one of two states working with more than two regions. A total of five regions covering various portions of the state are currently participating in Phase One of the SET Program in Louisiana.
The SET Phase Two Program eligibility requirements are: 1) Applicants must be multi-parish regions (two or more parishes) in Louisiana (or in conjunction with counties in neighboring states) where the average rural population is 51% or more of the region’s total population, based on the latest available census data or other sufficient data source. At least one parish from the multi-parish region must border the coast of Louisiana. 2) Applicants must be multi-parish regions (two or more parishes) in Louisiana (or in conjunction with counties in neighboring states) where 75% of the region’s land area is located in rural areas of that region, based on the latest available census data or other sufficient data source. At least one parish from the multi-parish region must border the coast of Louisiana.
Applications are available upon request by emailing Lee Jones at firstname.lastname@example.org or Karen Nardini at Karen.email@example.com or by visiting Louisiana Rural Development’s website at http://www.rurdev.usda.gov/la. A complete application must be
sent electronically to LA-SETAPPS@la.usda.gov no later than May 13, 2011,
(by 11:59 p.m. Central Standard Time). An acknowledgment of receipt of application will be sent within 36 hours. The final decision on selected applicants is expected to be made by June 30, 2011. There is no application fee; however, chosen applicants should be prepared to provide some minor logistical support.
The successful applicants will receive the following: 1) 35+ hours of valuable training on the core building blocks for developing and launching a regional economic development plan; 2) In-depth data tailored to the region and information that helps delineate the critical drivers of your economy (including the presence or emergence of regional clusters); 3) Tools that uncover local assets and resources that can be tapped to advance your region’s economic strategies and actions; 4) Coaching and a limited amount of technical assistance (up to 40 hours over a period of one year after completion of the SET Training Program) from Extension educators, USDA RD staff, and the Southern Rural Development Center to guide the implementation of your regional goals and strategies; 5) Option to apply for a special assistance grant that can be used to support more advanced regional data analyses or for securing services from individuals with specific expertise needed by your team to press forward with its regional goals; and, 6) Opportunity to share information and gather ideas/insights from other regions across the nation involved in the SET Program.
If you have questions, please contact one of the following individuals:
Lee Jones USDA Rural Development firstname.lastname@example.org
James Barnes LSU AgCenter JBarnes@agcenter.lsu.edu
Kenyetta Smith SU AgCenter Kenyetta_smith@suagcenter.com
Glenn Dixon SU&LSU AgCenter GDixon@agcenter.lsu.edu
Miriam Russell LA Economic Development email@example.com
Phone: Lee Jones (318) 473-7921
James Barnes (318) 428-3571
USDA Rural Development serves as the lead federal agency for rural development needs by offering financial and technical assistance to individuals, businesses, and communities. USDA Rural Development programs include funding for day care centers, fire trucks, and other community facility projects; the purchase, construction, or repair of homes; loans and loan guarantees to rural businesses to save or create jobs; financing for commercial renewable energy and energy efficiency projects; and loans and grants for water and sewer utility projects. For more information on programs offered by USDA Rural Development, contact the Louisiana State Office at (318) 473-7921 or visit its website at www.rurdev.usda.gov/la.