PORTLAND, OR, Aug 20, 2012 -- USDA Rural Development last week announced $170,170 to help rural communities in Oregon, Idaho and California develop strategies and local capacity to foster sustainable community prosperity. The project, delivered through the Oregon-based nonprofit Rural Development Initiatives, Inc. (RDI), will help 18 economically distressed communities transform the way they organize and engage community leaders and volunteers, attract and retain residents, and build on existing assets to compete in the global economy.
“At USDA, we understand the unique economic challenges faced in rural Oregon and in small towns across the Northwest,” said USDA Rural Development State Director Vicki Walker. “By collaborating with our partners, we are finding ways to help small communities take charge of their future and remain thriving, vibrant places to live, work and do business.”
The funding will be provided to Nebraska-based nonprofit Heartland Center for Leadership Development, which will, in turn, assist RDI in bringing the HomeTown Competitiveness program to the Northwest.
The HomeTown Competitiveness program uses what it calls a “‘come-back/give-back’ approach to rekindle residents’ belief and hope in the future of their hometown” through leadership, entrepreneurship, wealth retention, youth engagement, and building philanthropy.
The grant will allow RDI to provide specialized technical assistance to leaders, businesses and residents in the following three regional pilot hubs over the next two years:
1. Treasure Valley/ Ontario Area: including Ontario, Nyssa, Vale and Adrian in Oregon and Payette, Fruitland and New Plymouth in Idaho
2. Siskiyou County and Surrounding Area: includes Yreka, Weed, Mount Shasta in California
3. Coos County and Bordering Douglas County: includes Bandon, Myrtle Point, Coos Bay, Coquille, Reedsport, Winston, Elkton and North Bend in Oregon
Noelle Colby-Rotell, operations director for Rural Development Initiative, said “We will work closely with each area and gear the training we provide around the needs of each community. Residents will select where they need specialized training.” Colby-Rotelle explained that communities will have the opportunity to select from a variety of programs from leadership development and business transition to strategic planning and tourism development.
“This strategic and focused approach to rural community development has enjoyed widespread success in other parts of the U.S.,” said Milan Wall, co-director of the Heartland Center for Leadership Development. “HomeTown Competitiveness, or HTC, has literally turned around declining economies and developed new entrepreneurial cultures in small towns in states such as Indiana, Michigan, Missouri and Nebraska. We are confident HTC can produce the same results in the Northwest through the efforts of RDI and rural community leaders in the partner communities.”
The funding will be provided through the Rural Community Development Initiative Program (RCDI) administered by USDA Rural Development. The program helps community-based development organizations, federally recognized Indian tribes, and other groups promote economic growth in low-income, rural communities. Recipients are required to obtain matching funds, which increase the value of the grants.
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced the award last week, along with funding for 40 other grants to community-based organizations advancing projects that will create jobs and support rural business development.
"USDA has a strong partnership with rural citizens and communities to bring increased economic opportunity," Vilsack said. "These grants are investments that will help organizations build the capacity and expertise of local businesses, which in turn will spur economic activity and strengthen rural economies."
Funding for each project is contingent upon the recipient meeting the terms of the grant agreement. For a complete list of awards included in the current announcement, click here.
President Obama's plan for rural America has brought about historic investment and resulted in stronger rural communities. Under the President's leadership, these investments in housing, community facilities, businesses and infrastructure have empowered rural America to continue leading the way – strengthening America's economy, small towns and rural communities. USDA's investments in rural communities support the rural way of life that stands as the backbone of our American values. President Obama and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack are committed to a smarter use of Federal resources to foster sustainable economic prosperity and ensure the government is a strong partner for businesses, entrepreneurs and working families in rural communities.
USDA, through its Rural Development mission area, 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 America.
USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer. To file a complaint of discrimination, write: USDA, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, Office of Adjudication, 1400 Independence Ave., SW, Washington, DC 20250-9410 or call (866) 632-9992 (Toll-free Customer Service), (800) 877-8339 (Local or Federal relay), (866) 377-8642 (Relay voice users).