Albuquerque, May 06, 2011 -- Earlier today, USDA Rural Development State Director Terry Brunner traveled to Truchas, in northern New Mexico to help celebrate the upcoming tourism season with the opening of several new tourism businesses and cooperatives.
The Center of Southwest Culture received a $150,000 grant from USDA Rural Development last October to establish and incubate small northern New Mexico businesses and cooperatives that benefit from the tourism dollar. USDA Rural Development is highlighting the economic benefits of tourism for rural communities during the month of May.
During the kick-off ceremony, Brunner said, “USDA Rural Development is excited to provide support for projects like this one that help rural communities in New Mexico be innovative, competitive and self sustaining.” Brunner continued, “It’s great to come back to Truchas and see firsthand the progress that has been made in a few short months and to see cultural tourism related businesses up and running.”
The Center for Southwest Culture used USDA funding to establish the Cooperative Development Center of Northern New Mexico. The Center will provide technical knowledge, training and instruction to members of traditional cooperative communities in northern New Mexico. The overall objective is to preserve historical cultural Indo-Hispano communities that are disappearing due to poverty, lack of economic opportunity, changing development patterns and gentrification. The target beneficiaries of the Center are traditional cooperatives such as acequias and land grant communities.
The Center provides technical assistance to cooperative community members to develop business opportunities that make use of existing natural resources. The cooperative will assist members of the Truchas land grant, which abuts the Pecos Wilderness, to start cooperative bed and breakfast and outfitting business.
The Center is also re-training farmers to increase farm income and reduce reliance on multiple income sources such as small scale cattle ranching and participation in the wage economy. This project will develop a local food system that will bring healthy and affordable food stuffs to the area but will also create wealth among cooperative farmers by increasing farm income.
USDA Rural Development’s mission is to increase economic opportunity and improve the quality of life for rural residents. Rural Development fosters growth in homeownership, finances business development, and supports the creation of critical community and technology infrastructure. Further information on rural programs is available at any local USDA Rural Development office or by visiting USDA Rural Development’s web site at http://www.rurdev.usda.gov