News Release
Release No.STELPRD4017897
ContactTammi Schone605-352-1102
Rapid City, SD, Aug 15, 2012 --

@@USDA Rural Development State Director Elsie M. Meeks today highlighted job creation efforts through USDA’s investments in rural America. Meeks met with leaders of the First Peoples Fund to discuss the economic opportunities and job creation made available through the recently awarded USDA Rural Business Enterprise Grant (RBEG).

“The Obama Administration is committed to strengthening rural America’s economic development efforts,” said Meeks. “This project provides opportunity and a resource to support services, make an investment in the individual artists, and allows them to give back to their respective communities.”

The RBEG program helps to finance new and existing businesses as well as employment related adult education programs. First Peoples Fund received a $62,001 RBEG to provide technical assistance to expand the financial capacity, management, marketing, and training for Native American artists. The federal funding will be leveraged with an applicant contribution of $64,646.

RBEG funds can be used for start-up and working capital loans, building and plant renovations, transportation improvements, project planning and other business needs. Additional information on the RBEG program may be found at

“Culture is the most critical asset within Native communities, as it is the wellspring of our identity as tribal peoples,” said, Lori Pourier, (Oglala Lakota) President of First Peoples Fund. She added, “Our investment in individual artists and culture bearers strengthens tribal economies while ensuring cultural continuity.”

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 $172 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 areas.