Washington, DC, Aug 19, 2011 -- Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has announced the selection of projects in Nebraska to support small business and job creation opportunities, and train workers in Native American communities.
The Ponca Economic Development Corporation, Lincoln, Nebraska, was selected to receive a $195,169 grant to provide technical assistance, financial assistance and education to Native American entrepreneurs in the rural service areas of the Ponca Tribe of Nebraska, which includes 12 counties in Nebraska, two Iowa counties and one South Dakota County. The funding will create an estimated six jobs. In Lyons, Nebraska, the Center for Rural Affairs was selected to receive a $99,000 grant to serve the Santee Sioux Tribe of Nebraska, providing training and technical assistance in the development of an organic community garden, Farm to School project, and Farmers Market. This project is expected to create six jobs.
"USDA is working to ensure that members of Tribes have the tools they need to expand economic opportunities and improve their quality of life," Vilsack said. "These grants represent USDA's ongoing commitment to strengthen Tribes and support sustainable rural business opportunities that will create jobs."
The announcement was made as part of the Obama Administration's week-long focus on the rural economy and the White House Rural Council, which is addressing key areas of need in rural America including helping rural small businesses access capital, expanding rural job search and training services, and increasing rural access to health care workers and technology.
The grants announced are administered through USDA Rural Development's Rural Business Enterprise Grant (RBEG) program. This program provides grants for rural projects that finance the development of small and emerging rural businesses, help fund distance learning networks, and help fund employment-related adult education programs. More information about this program can be found at www.rurdev.usda.gov/BCP_rbeg.html .
Funding is contingent upon the recipient meeting the conditions of the grant agreement.
In June, President Obama signed an Executive Order establishing the first White House Rural Council, chaired by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. The White House Rural Council will work throughout government to create policies to promote economic prosperity and a high quality of life in our rural communities.
Since taking office, President Obama's Administration has taken significant steps to improve the lives of rural Americans and has provided broad support for rural communities. The Obama Administration has set goals of modernizing infrastructure by providing broadband access to 10 million Americans, expanding educational opportunities for students in rural areas, and providing affordable health care. In the long term, these unparalleled rural investments will help ensure that America's rural communities are repopulating, self-sustaining, and thriving economically.
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 $155 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.