VIRGINIA, Minn., Oct 26, 2011 -- USDA Rural Development State Director Colleen Landkamer today announced that three organizations in Minnesota have been selected to receive grants to help cooperatives grow, create jobs and strengthen their capacity to serve rural communities.
The Food Co-op Initiative in Southern Minnesota, The Latino Economic Development Center in Minneapolis and the Northcountry Cooperative Foundation in Minneapolis were selected to receive $225,000 grants through Rural Development’s Rural Cooperative Development Grant Program (RCDG).
“These grants help build and strengthen rural cooperatives so they can create jobs and boost the rural economy,” Landkamer said. “October is National Cooperative Month and we are proud to support Minnesota cooperatives as they bring increased value and economic opportunity to rural residents.”
Under the RCDG program, grants are awarded to colleges, universities and non-profit groups to create and operate centers that help individuals or groups establish, expand or operate rural businesses, especially cooperatives and mutually-owned businesses. Grants may be used to conduct feasibility studies, create and implement business plans, and help businesses develop new markets for their products and services.
For example, the Food Co-op Initiative (FCI) will use its grant to provide seed grants, training and resources to start new retail grocery co-ops throughout rural America. Activities include regional conferences and workshops, webinar training for start-up organizers, expanding web resources, board development and collaborations with other organizations.
The Latino Economic Development Center (LEDC) used a RCDG grant in 2010 to launch the Latino-based Rural Cooperative Development Center and utilize the entrepreneurial talents of Latino people living in rural Minnesota. This most recent grant will expand on those efforts by providing additional technical assistance and financing programs to start-up cooperatives and existing cooperatives. For example, the LEDC’s award-winning Mercado Central cooperative public market concept, a facility developed and owned in partnership with a cooperative of Latino vendors, will be expanded to new areas of rural Minnesota.
The Northcountry Cooperative Foundation will use RCDG funds to strengthen rural housing cooperatives in the Upper Midwest, assist rural cooperatives with job retention, and provide technical assistance and specialized training that focuses on housing and food consumer cooperatives. The overall project work plan is designed to transform rural communities through a strategic, focused and collaborative approach to cooperative development.
Almost $8 million in loans and grants were announced for 36 organizations in 26 states. To learn more about the RCDG program, click here.