HILO, Hawaii, Oct 25, 2013 -- Chris J. Kanazawa, State Director for USDA Rural Development, announced the selection of the Kohala Center, Inc. to receive a $200,000 grant. The funding is being provided through USDA Rural Development's Rural Cooperative Development Grant (RCDG) program.
"Rural communities in Hawaii have historically relied on small businesses to support their economies, and the development of cooperatives has been instrumental in engaging beneficial collaboration amongst these businesses," said Kanazawa. "The RCDG program offers financial resources to assist organizations start cooperatives or expand and strengthen existing cooperatives, and help develop new business opportunities. The award to The Kohala Center is intended to expand the outreach into rural communities to ensure that small businesses have access to these grant funds."
The Kohala Center is an independent, not-for-profit, community-based center for research, conservation and education. With this grant funding, the Kohala Center intends to expand the Laulima Center which supports the development of cooperative businesses with technical assistance throughout the state of Hawaii. Funding is projecting to assist 24 distinct groups, 12 existing businesses, 12 existing cooperatives, and 5 new cooperative entities that will create and a total of 10 jobs in rural Hawaii.
"Over the last two and 3/4 years, we have had the pleasure of working with 10 newly incorporated and eight existing cooperatives. We're currently working with an additional eight new start-ups that will be incorporating. We are honored to be given the opportunity to help our rural economy thrive through collective business solutions," said Matt Hamabata, Executive Director of The Kohala Center.
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack noted that today's funding announcement is another reminder of the importance of USDA programs for rural America. A comprehensive new Food, Farm and Jobs Bill would further expand the rural economy. He said that's just one reason why Congress must get a comprehensive Food, Farm and Jobs Bill done as soon as possible.
USDA, through its Rural Development mission area, administers and manages housing, business and community infrastructure 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 America.
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.
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