Anchorage, AK, Jul 16, 2013 -- USDA-Rural Development (RD) Alaska State Director Jim Nordlund today announced the selection of three Alaskan recipients for USDA-RD’s Rural Business Enterprise Grants (RBEG). USDA remains focused on carrying out its mission, despite a time of significant budget uncertainty.
“Small businesses are the backbone of the economy in rural communities,” Nordlund said. “USDA-RD supports small businesses by providing job training, business development opportunities, strategic community planning and other resources. We’re focused on making sure our rural businesses have the tools they need to grow.”
USDA-RD has a long, positive record of supporting projects in Alaska. Funding is contingent upon the recipient meeting the conditions of the grant agreement. The following is a list of Alaskan organizations that have been selected to receive RBEG grants:
1. Copper River-Ahtna Inter-Tribal Resource Conservation District (CRITR): $250,000
This grant will provide funding to purchase equipment to be leased by a Gulkana wood pellet business. High-energy costs for heating, electricity and transportation continue to be an economic burden on the residents, businesses and organizations of the Copper River Valley. Although fossil fuels play an important role in meeting current energy demands, renewable resources, such as wood pellets, are likely to meet future demands. The residents of Gulkana have been actively addressing energy issues in their community. A biomass system has been installed that provides heat to nine buildings in the community through a heat loop. The primary focus for the village now is to complete and activate a pellet mill. CRITR provided a $350,000 match for this project.
2. The Bering Straits Foundation: $200,000
The funding will be used to provide 44 small businesses with commercial energy audits. The project will be located throughout the Bering Straits Region and delivered primarily to Alaska Native businesses. This project brings the success and experience from previous RBEG projects which have provided more than 50 previous commercial energy audits.
3. The Copper Valley Development Association: $99,800
The funds will be used to host and contract controlled environment agriculture unit training for small agriculture producers located throughout the Copper River Valley. This project meets multiple USDA initiatives, including local foods, Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food and Farm to Schools programs.
For more information on USDA’s business and cooperative development programs, visit: http://www.rurdev.usda.gov/Business.html.
The funding announced today under the Rural Business Enterprise Grants program will help support the Obama Administration’s vision by providing rural communities with resources to support small businesses, improve public facilities, and create new, sustainable jobs. Funding is contingent upon the recipient meeting the conditions for the grant.
Rural Business Enterprise Grants and other USDA-RD programs help rural small businesses manufacture new products, expand local food systems and create jobs. Secretary Vilsack continued a call for Congress to pass a comprehensive, multiyear Food, Farm and Jobs Bill as soon as possible. Leaders from both parties have signaled a willingness to come together and get this critically important legislation passed.
President Obama’s plan to revitalize the rural economy has brought about historic investment over the past four years – including in America’s small towns and rural communities. USDA, through its Rural Development mission area, has a portfolio of programs designed to improve the economic stability of rural communities, businesses, residents, farmers and ranchers and improve the quality of life in rural America.
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