Denver, CO, Oct 26, 2011 -- WASHINGTON, October 26, 2011 – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced the selection of 36 organizations in 26 states and the District of Columbia for grants to help rural cooperatives and small businesses expand, create jobs and strengthen their capacity to serve rural citizens and communities.
“These grants help cooperatives support local projects and initiatives that create jobs and improve rural economic conditions,” Vilsack said. “As we celebrate National Cooperative Month, USDA is proud to continue its support of local and regional efforts to bolster these cooperatives and help them bring increased value and economic opportunity to rural residents.”
The grants are being provided through USDA Rural Development’s Rural Cooperative Development Grant (RCDG) program. Under this program, grants of up to $225,000 may be 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. Rural Housing Service Administrator Tammye Treviño announced the recipients on behalf of Secretary Vilsack.
In Colorado, the Rocky Mountain Farmers Union Educational and Charitable Foundation was awarded a $225,000 grant to fund activities that focus on improving economic opportunities of rural communities in Colorado, New Mexico and Wyoming. The grant will help with the development of the Rocky Mountain Center-to-Center and other organizational cooperation needed to facilitate renewable energy cooperatives, provide outreach, education, and technical assistance. It will also improve capacity and sustainability of the Rocky Mountain Center.
“Cooperatives play a vital role and are a key source of jobs as our nation strives to reduce high levels of unemployment by providing good jobs for tens of thousands of people in the farm sector alone. This partnership with the Rocky Mountain Farmers Union and our RCDG program will help create opportunities and jobs for rural Colorado,” said Jim Isgar, Colorado Rural Development State Director
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 active portfolio of more than $155 billion in affordable 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.