Lexington, MO, Jan 23, 2014 -- USDA Rural Development Assistant to State Director Tim Rickabaugh, on behalf of Rural Development State Director Janie Dunning, today announced the award of a Rural Business Enterprise Grant (RBEG) to the Old Trails Regional Tourism Partnership (Partnership). The RBEG award is $49,500.
“Regional approaches to solving local problems is becoming normal operating procedure around the country and Missouri is no exception. In fact, Rural Development encourages such an approach. We understand small, rural communities often struggle to find resources to meet demands,” Dunning said. “By taking a regional approach to solving problems, communities can combine assets, expertise and knowledge to respond to challenges. Old Trails Regional Tourism Partnership has embraced the “strength in numbers” method for responding to needs. The Partnership knows a combined effort is necessary to accomplish the task of assessing regional needs and identifying resources to meet those needs. Great Regions will be another tool at their disposal.”
Rural Development funds will be used to hire an executive director to connect the regional economic assets and cooperative marketing by increasing visitor attraction to the Partnership’s 9-county region to create opportunities for small and emerging businesses. The businesses of the region currently employ at least 300 employees and plan to add at least 10 new jobs and extend the hours of many employees.
“Keeping our communities connected is paramount in this day and age, as we work to create jobs, keep our economies growing, and create more opportunities for small and start up businesses,” said U.S. Representative Emanuel Cleaver, II. “The grant awarded Old Trails Regional Tourism Partnership will keep the 9 county region in close communication, bringing more visitors into the region while strengthening the job base for those here at home.”
U.S. Representative Vicky Hartzler commented, “I am pleased that Old Trails Regional Tourism Partnership is benefitting from $49,500 in USDA Rural Development funds to promote and encourage economic development. I welcome the opportunities this will help create for small and emerging businesses in the Fourth Congressional District counties which are part of the Tourism Partnership.”
In addition to the announcement of the RBEG award, the Partnership’s designation as a Great Region by Ms. Dunning was celebrated. By designating the Partnership as a Great Region, Missouri Rural Development commits support through at least Fiscal Year 2015. The support may include training, technical support, actions to foster intra-regional collaboration, project funding for plan implementation and other support deemed useful.
Great Regions is a priority of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. Secretary Vilsack has stressed the importance of a regional approach to creating economic opportunity and job creation in rural communities. USDA supports rural communities that work together on a multi-county or regional basis, with a focus on the development and implementation of ground-level economic development plans.
To be designated, a region must have an economic development plan in place, in process or be willing to prepare an economic development plan. In addition, the region must demonstrate an interest in increasing collaboration across counties and institutions. An economic development plan is generated by a local team with broad participation, built upon careful analysis of the region’s assets and includes key current and emerging economic clusters.
Anyone seeking more information about Rural Development’s RBEG Program or any other USDA Rural Development program can visit the Missouri Rural Development homepage at http://www.rurdev.usda.gov/mo. The Missouri Rural Development Business Program Director can be contacted at (573) 876-9321.
This use of USDA Rural Development funding is another reminder of the importance of USDA programs for rural America. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack stresses that 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.
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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