Fresno, CA, Jul 11, 2011 -- Today, USDA Rural Development State Director Glenda Humiston announced three Fresno County organizations were selected to receive grant awards totaling $324,105 to help support economic and community development in Fresno County. The grants were announced in support of the Obama Administration's launch of the new Strong Cities, Strong Communities (SC2) pilot initiative in Fresno.
"Today's announcement is just one step USDA is taking toward helping build the future of Fresno County," said Humiston. "I am excited to participate in the joint federal collaboration and will personally be involved in helping implement these regional economic development efforts."
The funding announced today is being provided through two USDA programs: the Rural Community Development Initiative Program (RCDI) and the Rural Business Enterprise Grant Program (RBEG). RCDI helps community-based development organizations, federally recognized Indian tribes and other groups promote economic growth in low-income, rural communities. Recipients are required to obtain matching funds, which increase the value of the grants. The grants are awarded to public or nonprofit intermediary organizations. The funds are then provided to recipients, which must be located in eligible rural areas. RBEG funds can be used for start-up and working capital loans, building and plant renovations, transportation improvements, project planning and other business needs. Eligible applicants are nonprofit organizations, Native American tribes and public entities.
In addition to the grants, Humiston announced Robert Tse had been selected to coordinate USDA's efforts for SC2. Tse is a Community Planning and Development Specialist with USDA Rural Development. He is responsible for developing regional rural economic development strategies in California including integrating policies, resources and initiatives through federal, state, local government and public-private partnerships. Prior to this position he was an international consultant focusing on food and agriculture; served as the Deputy Director for International Trade in the Governor's Office of Economic Development and simultaneously served as Deputy Secretary for Trade Development with the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) He also served as the Director of Trade for CDFA and is a 17 veteran of the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS).
Rural Community Development Initiative Grant Recipient:
• Fresno County Economic Development Corporation received a $175,105 grant to provide technical assistance to 8 rural communities in Fresno County that will enable and build their capacity to support sustainable economic and community development in their communities on an ongoing basis. The technical assistance will focus on a needs assessment for each community, a tailored plan for training, and "train the trainer" sessions based on needs. Communities assisted include Firebaugh, Huron, Kerman, Mendota, Orange Cove, Parlier, Sanger and San Joaquin.
Rural Business Enterprise Grant Recipients:
• State Center Community College District received a $99,000 grant to provide technical assistance to small businesses in rural communities throughout Fresno, Kings and Tulare counties. Trainings will focus on developing a regional food system that will move agriculture products from the Central Valley to markets in Los Angeles and Orange Counties, as well as identifying potential international markets. A strong collaboration of private sector and public agencies will assist the marketing efforts.
• Fresno Area Hispanic Foundation received a $50,000 grant to provide technical assistance including training on accessing capital and successful business operations to small businesses, as well as provide training to improve vocational skills for employed/unemployed adults in Biola and other rural communities throughout Fresno County with populations less than 5,000.
USDA, through its Rural Development mission area, administers and manages housing, business and community infrastructure and facility programs through a national network of state and local offices. Rural Development has an existing portfolio of more than $150 billion in loans and loan guarantees. These programs are designed to improve the economic stability of rural communities, businesses, residents, farmers and ranchers and improve the quality of life in rural America. To better coordinate Federal programs and maximize the impact of Federal investment, President Obama signed an Executive Order on June 9, 2011 creating the White House Rural Council that will work throughout government to create policies to promote economic prosperity and a high quality of life in our rural communities. Agriculture Secretary Vilsack serves as chair of the Council.
Visit http://www.rurdev.usda.gov/ca for additional information about the agency's programs or to locate the USDA Rural Development office nearest you.
USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer and lender. To file a complaint of discrimination, write: USDA, Director, Office of Civil Rights, 1400 Independence Avenue, SW, Washington, DC 20250-9410 or call (800) 795-3272 (voice), or (202) 720-6382 (TDD).