February 2013– Volume XI, Number 2

Compiled & edited by Deb Miller Slipek & Ann Treacy

  • —ACROSS THE FIELD
  • —FUNDING
  • —TRAINING & MEETINGS
  • —OPPORTUNITIES
  • —MISCELLANEOUS

Across the Field:  Renewable Energy Proof of Concept Center planning grant

by James Robins

You might not have heard much about it yet, but Minnesota has a tremendous pool of business innovators, researchers and community leaders across our state devoted to moving renewable energy technology dramatically forward. At the same, our state has fallen short on putting all the pieces together, lacking the collaboration necessary to reach our full market potential. The goals of the current Proof of Concept Center (PoCC) planning grant process aim high, in hopes of harnessing diverse talents sharing a common vision to deliver a dynamic Minnesota renewable energy business cluster that can reach national and global markets.

This planning process operates as inclusively as possible, bringing together urban and rural, seeking collaboration on all forms of renewable energy including wind, biomass, solar and other ascendant technologies. Our renewable energy business potential can be achieved just as easily in Baxter as in Bloomington, two communities that happen to host a pair of leading renewable energy players that are already working together on a global scale. In reality, our rural communities often offer competitive advantages due to close proximity to excellent wind and biomass resources, an abundance of human talent and excess industrial capacity, as well as potential for applying fossil fuel replacement technologies on the farm.

Throughout Minnesota we have the intellectual capacity to deliver new technologies and an existing educational infrastructure capable of training the workforce to deliver innovation. Conversely, we face a big challenge as rural-targeted federal and state government resources continually diminish. Technology-driven economic development ranks high among the remaining tools. With no oil, gas or coal, Minnesota depends on importing its fossil fuel-based energy, so moving forward with an emphasis on homegrown renewable technology becomes an essential strategy.

Working groups devoted to building a strong PoCC in renewable energy are organizing and have begun meeting in the areas of Research and Development, Business Services, Capital Access, Policy Reform, Private Sector, and Market Development and Metrics. We hope to finalize findings and make our report by late summer. Beyond gathering our renewable energy assessment and the forging of greater collaboration, we hope to proceed with implementing a coordinated renewable energy proof of concept center soon after the current planning phase concludes.

This month’s guest article was written by James Robins, consultant to Region Five Development Commission http://regionfive.orgRegion Five and the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development http://www.positivelyminnesota.com are designated lead agencies in the one-year, $300,000 Minnesota Renewable Energy Proof of Concept Center planning grant announced by U.S. EDA in September, 2012 EDA announces http://tinyurl.com/b5pdtrt.  For more information, or to inquire about participating in planning grant associated Working Groups, please contact Robins at jamesnrobins@yahoo.com .

FUNDING

The federal Health Center Program has released a New Access Point (NAP) funding opportunity. http://tinyurl.com/a9jwf9d Community Health Centers or new organizations (“new starts”) may apply. Priority will be given to unserved, high-poverty populations and sparsely populated areas (seven or fewer people per square mile). Other considerations include the rural/urban distribution of awards. Initial applications due at Grants.gov by February 27; supplemental application information due April 3.

— The Department of the Treasury has announced the availability of funds through its Community Development Financial Institutions Program (CDFI) for certified CDFIs. The program offers financial assistance grants to fund a wide array of community development, affordable housing and economic development projects sponsored by CDFIs, which are nonprofits or credit unions certified to participate in the program that lend or invest in their communities.  Deadline to apply: 2/28/2013.  For more information on this program, http://tinyurl.com/b5too7f

— The Department of Agriculture’s Rural Housing Service has announced the availability of funds through the demonstration program to preserve and revitalize existing rural rental housing projects under Section 515, Section 514, and Section 516 of the Housing Act of 1949.  Deadline: Pre-applications are due 2/28/2013.  For application guidelines, http://tinyurl.com/ab4lqtu

— The East Central Regional Arts Council (ECRAC) is an organization dedicated to improving the quantity and quality of arts. This is accomplished primarily through grant-making for organizations and for individuals in Region 7E (Chisago, Isanti, Kanabec, Mille Lacs, and Pine Counties.) Currently arts funding is available for individuals:  Artist Fellowships, http://tinyurl.com/75g8yz5 Arts Scholarships for kids http://tinyurl.com/b9ymde5, and Individual Artist grants. http://tinyurl.com/72wamg3 Only applicants permanently residing in Region 7E are eligible for this grant funding.  Applications are encouraged from artists in all disciplines.  Applications are due April 1st for the Individual Artist Grants and March 1st for the other two opportunities.

— The Citizens’ Institute on Rural Design (CIRD) (formerly known as “Your Town”) has released a request for proposals. http://tinyurl.com/b757nyl Rural communities facing design challenges related to quality of life and economic vitality may apply to receive a $7,000 grant and in-kind design expertise and technical assistance valued at $35,000.  Rural communities with a population of 50,000 or less located in a non-metropolitan county or a metropolitan county on the urban fringe are eligible.  Successful applicants will host local workshops in 2013 that bring together local leaders, non-profits and community organizations with a team of specialists in design and planning.  Applications due March 5.

— The National Endowment for the Arts is now accepting applications for its Citizens’ Institute on Rural Design program: “Design is an important tool for rural communities to build upon existing assets and improve the way a community looks, its quality of life, and its economic viability.  However, few rural communities have access to design assistance or the expertise to tackle these challenges on their own.”  Learn more about eligibility requirements by visiting http://www.rural-design.org/. Deadline is March 5, 2013. 

— The Department of Justice is offering funding for programs that provide responses to child abuse victims and their families in Native American and Alaska Native communitiesDeadline: 3/5/2013.  Click http://tinyurl.com/a4yg7lo to learn more about this program.

Applications open for Clean Water Partnership funding.  The MPCA is accepting proposals for Clean Water Partnership grant and loan funding through March 8, 2013.  Proposals will be accepted from local governmental units interested in leading a nonpoint source pollution control project to protect or improve water bodies.  Priority for funding will be given to projects preventing degradation of unimpaired waters. For a project to be considered a protection/prevention project, proposers will need to document that the water body(ies) being addressed is currently meeting state water quality standards for a particular pollutant of concern, or has not been assessed but is known to be supporting beneficial uses.  The MPCA anticipates allocating about $1.1 million for grants and about $5 million for loans this year.  For more information, visit the Clean Water Partnership webpage on MPCA website.

Public Works and Economic Adjustment Assistance Programs Opportunity  http://tinyurl.com/bdrfwwp Grants for rural and urban communities to support the implementation of regional economic development strategies. Application deadline: March 13, 2013.

— To help more students access the support they need to graduate, MCF member Great Lakes Higher Education Guaranty Corporation is http://tinyurl.com/agnqony offering College Success grants of up to $300,000 each to colleges and community-based organizations located in Iowa, Minnesota or Wisconsin. Applications are due March 14, 2013.  Learn more about this new opportunity. http://tinyurl.com/a7j9wnn

 

 MDA issues Request for Proposals for farm to school grants. The Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) has issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) for the 2013 Farm to School Grant Program. MDA anticipates awarding $250,000 in competitive grants to increase sales of locally grown and raised food products to K-12 institutions.  Two categories of grants will be considered:

 

1) Grants for the purchase of equipment and/or physical improvements that will allow schools to purchase, prepare and serve more locally grown and raised food. The grant will cover 50% of the total project cost up to a maximum grant award of $50,000. Recipients must contribute the remaining 50% of the total project cost as a cash contribution.

2) Grants for the cost of feasibility plans that identify specific equipment, tools, training, or policies that a school or school district needs in order to purchase more locally grown or raised food. This grant will cover up to 75% of the total project cost up to a maximum grant award of $30,000. Recipients must contribute the remaining 25% of the total project cost as a cash contribution.

As part of this RFP, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota (Blue Cross) is providing partial support to help schools meet the requirement for matching funds. This funding is part of Blue Cross’ long-term statewide public health initiative to reduce preventable chronic disease by tackling its root causes: tobacco use, physical inactivity and unhealthy eating.  Applicants who are interested utilizing the Blue Cross contribution as part of their proposal should contact David Weinand at 651-201-6500 for instructions on how to include a Blue Cross contribution in the application.  All proposals must be received no later than 4:00 p.m. on March 15, 2013. Proposals may be delivered by mail, in person, or by email. The complete RFP and instructions for submittal are located online at: http://tinyurl.com/a8rdpkk

–Local Initiatives Support Corporation is accepting applications for the NFL Youth Football Fund Grassroots Program. The program provides matching grants of up to $200,000 to nonprofits working to make capital improvements to football fields in low- and moderate-income neighborhoods lacking clean, safe and accessible football fields. Deadline: 3/15/2013. http://tinyurl.com/a3kxnle

–The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration is accepting applications from nonprofits and public entities for Targeted Capacity Expansion Peer-to-Peer (TCE-PTP) grants. The purpose of this program is to expand and enhance service capacity through the provision of addiction peer recovery support services for those individuals with substance use disorders. Deadline: 3/15/2013. http://tinyurl.com/azh2c6q

— HUD is offering Comprehensive Housing Counseling grants to housing counseling agencies (including local housing counseling agencies, intermediaries and multi-state organizations) that are directly approved by HUD and State Housing Finance Agencies (SHFAs). Deadline: 3/18/2013. To get an application, http://tinyurl.com/ar2bgz7

— HUD has issued a NOFA for the Indian Community Development Block Grant (ICDBG) Program. The purpose of the ICDBG program is the development of viable Indian and Alaska Native communities, including the creation of decent housing, suitable living environments and economic opportunities primarily for persons with low and moderate- incomes. Deadline: 3/18/2013. To read the notice, http://tinyurl.com/a5u7grs

— HUD has issued a NOFA for the Healthy Homes program which will fund technical studies to improve existing methods for detecting and controlling key housing-related health and safety hazards to develop new methods to detect and control these hazards and to improve our knowledge of key housing-related health and safety hazards. Deadline: 3/19/2013. To learn more and to apply, click http://tinyurl.com/bf6zd9j

–The Department of Labor has issued a NOFA for the YouthBuild program for nonprofits, state and local governments, and tribes. YouthBuild grants will be awarded through a competitive process to organizations to oversee the provision of education, occupational skills training and employment services to disadvantaged youth in their communities while performing meaningful work and service to their communities. Deadline: 3/19/2013. Click for an application. http://tinyurl.com/a2n3768

–The U.S. Department of Justice is offering Coordinated Tribal Assistance Grants to federally-recognized Indian Tribal governments, including Alaska Native villages and Tribal consortia consisting of two or more federally-recognized Indian Tribes. This solicitation provides federally-recognized Tribes and Tribal consortia an opportunity to develop a comprehensive and coordinated approach to public safety and victimization issues. Deadline to apply: 3/19/2013. For more information and to apply, http://tinyurl.com/4454n3w

–The Department of Health and Human Services has issued a request for proposals for the Ethnic Community Self Help Program Grant. The objective of this program is to strengthen organized ethnic communities to ensure ongoing support and services to refugees within five years after their initial resettlement. National, regional (multi-state) or local refugee ethnic-based community organizations that address community building and facilitate cultural adjustment and integration are invited to apply. Deadline: 3/22/2013. To learn more about this opportunity, click http://tinyurl.com/b2kwg28

— The Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS) seeks proposals for Community Service/Community Services Development (CS/SD) grants through its Aging and Adult Services Division. The purpose is to expand and integrate home and community-based services for older adults that allow local communities to rebalance their long-term service delivery system, support people in their own home, expand the caregiver support and respite care network and promote independence. Applications due April 5. http://tinyurl.com/ypgwf8

— HUD has issued a NOFA for the Self-Help Homeownership Opportunity Program (SHOP). SHOP funds are awarded to national and regional nonprofit organizations and consortia to facilitate and encourage innovative homeownership opportunities on a national, geographically diverse basis through the provision of self-help homeownership housing programs. Deadline: 4/24/2013. http://tinyurl.com/clvbdle

— The Dollar General Literacy Foundation is accepting applications for youth literacy grants of up to $4,000 from schools, public libraries and nonprofits located within twenty miles of a Dollar General store that are working to help students who are below grade level or experiencing difficulty reading. Deadline: 5/23/2013. http://tinyurl.com/7q9ohzf

— Looking for resources to support discussion around a community health assessment or other issue? In partnership with the Meadowlark Institute, InCommons is offering small grants for facilitated conversations around an issue, opportunity or project. The Request for Proposals is available on the InCommons website. Grant applications are accepted on a rolling basis, but all funds are expected to be allocated by May 31. http://tinyurl.com/cgarfet

— The 2012 Minnesota e-Health Connectivity Grant Program for Health Information Exchange (HIE) is accepting applications on a first-come, first-serve basis. Eligible applicants include community HIE Partners (two or more health organizations collaborating to implement HIE for meaningful use transactions) or pharmacies not able to accept electronic prescriptions. Visit the Minnesota e- Health Connectivity Grant for Health Information Exchange page for more information on this new funding opportunity. Contact Anne Schloegel at anne.schloegel@state.mn.us or 651-201-3850 with questions. http://tinyurl.com/con4wy9

USDA Microloans are direct farm operating loans with a shortened application process and reduced paperwork designed to meet the needs of smaller, non-traditional, and niche type operations. Apprentice and mentorship programs, non-farm business experience, and farm labor experience are acceptable alternative solutions for helping to meet farm experience and managerial requirements.  There is no minimum loan amount. The maximum loan amount for a Microloan is $35,000.   Contact your local office or USDA Service Center to learn more. To locate your local FSA office, http://tinyurl.com/3d4njzu or find a listing in the telephone directory in the section set aside for governmental/public organizations under the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Farm Service Agency.

–The Surdna Foundation is accepting applications under its Sustainable Environments Program on a rolling basis. The Foundation’s grant making is focused on smart growth, climate and energy, and green economies through a lens of next generation infrastructure. Letters of Inquiry are accepted at any time, and successful applicants will be asked to submit a full proposal.  To learn more about Surdna, click http://tinyurl.com/3x45wgo

TRAINING/MEETINGS

— Rural Design: A New Design Discipline.  Rural areas worldwide are undergoing profound change creating considerable challenges and stress for its residents and the ecosystems upon which they depend. Rural Design brings design thinking and the problem-solving process of design to rural issues, recognizing that human and natural systems are inextricably coupled and engaged in continuous cycles of mutual influence and response.

In conjunction with Dewey Thorbeck’s recently released book on rural design, his exhibition at HGA Gallery, Rapson Hall, University of Minnesota – Minneapolis campus continues until March 10, 2013 and outlines the theoretical base for rural design and the importance of connecting issues to create synergy and optimal solutions from a global, national, state, region, and local perspective.  For more information go to: http://tinyurl.com/l8afyr

Farm to Cafeteria Workshops.  Eight regional Farm to Cafeteria workshops will take place in Minnesota between February and April, 2013.  Farm to Cafeteria aims to build strong communities, healthy people, and resilient local farms. These workshops are designed to cultivate strong partnerships between growers and buyers and offer educational opportunities to increase capacity for local food purchases by institutions.  Cost: $20 (includes a meal).  Workshop content will vary by region. For more information or to register, visit http://tinyurl.com/d42vtsg

–“The Sustainable Farming Association’s 22nd Annual Conference will be Feb. 15-16 at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum in Chaska. This first-ever two-day event will include educational sessions, special Advanced Grazing and Culinary workshops, a local beer and wine tasting, and plenty of networking within our Farmer-to-Farmer Network™. To register or to learn more, visit www.sfa-mn.org/conference.”

 Clean Energy Resource Teams (CERTs) 2013 Conference: Community-Driven Clean Energy will be held February 20-21, St. Cloud, MN at the River’s Edge Convention Center.  CERTs 2013 will be an exploration and celebration of successful energy efficiency and renewable energy projects, and a coming together of hundreds of amazing people who are working to create a clean energy future in their communities and beyond.  CERTs 2013 will begin with in-depth workshops and an evening reception on February 20th, and continue with a daylong conference on the 21st. It will be a place for you to connect with friends and colleagues and develop new relationships that can help you advance your work.  You can see the agenda, learn more, and register to attend, sponsor, or exhibit at http://2013.mncerts.org

Join the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits and Nonprofits Assistance Fund for the 2013 Nonprofit Finance and Sustainability Conference on February 22 at the Earle Brown Heritage Center in Brooklyn Park, MN. This second annual day-long conference will offer insights, strategies and tools for staff and board members looking at your organization’s financial sustainability from diverse perspectives – from strategy and oversight to implementation and evaluation. Join your nonprofit colleagues to learn about critical issues and best practices to help your organization remain sustainable into the future. Register now and save! http://tinyurl.com/897tun8

Reflect on Contemporary Issues in Evaluation.  The 18th Annual Minnesota Evaluation Studies Institute (MESI) Spring Training is an exciting and enriching interdisciplinary evaluation conference designed for professional evaluators, program directors and staff in nonprofit and for-profit organizations, students and others interested in conducting or using evaluations. MESI provides a unique opportunity to learn and reflect on contemporary issues in evaluation with national experts and practitioners in a small setting.  This year’s conference will be held March 6 – 8 at the Continuing Education Conference Center, University of Minnesota, St. Paul, MN. Intensive pre-conference workshops will be offered March 4 – 5. New this year, MESI has added an additional networking opportunity. Speed networking will be available on Wednesday from 4:30 – 5:30pm. Register now! http://tinyurl.com/aek86h8

Assets and Wellness: A Positive Approach to Health will be held March 8, 2013, 10:00 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. at the University of Minnesota Urban Research and Outreach-Engagement Center, Minneapolis – How might we see greater improvements in the health and well-being of all individuals if we recognize and build on the assets and strengths already present in our communities rather than on the deficits and gaps? More organizations and groups are breaking away from traditional ‘needs’ based programming to work in partnership with communities to build on existing strengths — and they are seeing powerful outcomes as a result. http://assetsandwellness.eventbrite.com/#

— SAVE THE DATE!  Minnesota Campus Compact’s 2013 summit and awards ceremony will be on Monday, April 1, at Hamline University’s new Anderson Center in St. Paul.

The 2013 Nonprofit Technology & Communications Conference will be held Wednesday, April 10 from 7:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. at the Hilton Minneapolis at 1001 Marquette Ave. S, in Minneapolis.  This is the place to go for cutting-edge content on many of the technology opportunities and challenges facing nonprofits today.  Sponsored by the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits and MAP for Nonprofits, this full-day event is the place to go to stay up to speed with tools and trends now and looking into the future. You’ll dive into nonprofit strategies for everything from mobile marketing to cloud computing, from digital inclusion to website design, and much, much more.

Team Registration  Send more people and get more out of the conference – register 3 and your 4th is free!  Scholarships   MCN strives to ensure this conference is accessible to all nonprofits, regardless of size or ability to pay. Full and partial scholarships are available for small nonprofits, organizations from Greater Minnesota, and immigrant and refugee-led organizations. http://tinyurl.com/7rawqvn

The 56th annual Minnesota Inventors Congress Invention Expo will be hosted in Redwood Falls MN on April 19 & 20, 2013. With change comes the opportunity for new ideas and ways of doing business. Stay tuned for updates about your opportunity to test market your products at the Invention & Idea Show hosted by the Minnesota Inventors Congress.

SAVE THE DATE!  The next gathering of the National Rural Assembly will be held in the D.C. Metro area, June 23-26, 2013.

— The 2013 Minnesota Rural Health Conference will be held June 24-25, 2013 in Duluth. http://tinyurl.com/alnb9sn

OPPORTUNITIES

The Saint Paul Foundation and the Minnesota Idea Open are asking all Minnesotans to answer the question: What would you do with $1 million to make Saint Paul great A first of its kind, the Forever Saint Paul Challenge invites all Minnesotans to share their best and brightest ideas-and vote for the best one-that will help make our capital city forever strong. The winning idea receives a $1 million grant for implementation. For more information, visit the Challenge website.  Idea submission period is from February 13-April 3. http://tinyurl.com/d3noa99

The Rural Policy Leadership Institute is seeking “innovative and engaging speakers” to present at the April 8-10, 2013, meeting in Dallas, TX.  Deadline for submissions is February 20.  Click here to read the full RFPhttp://tinyurl.com/ah6hmlu “The Rural Policy Leadership Institute (RPLI) welcomes proposals from regional, statewide, national and international speakers and presenters who wish to share their lessons learned in developing and advancing rural policy, including both successful and unsuccessful initiatives. Selected presenters will bring their experiences and insight to a national convening of rural advocates, community members, stakeholders, policy makers, and national and regional networks. Presentations will be made in the PechaKucha style – a fun, fast-paced way to share information and energize audiences (click here for PechaKucha criteria http://tinyurl.com/ah6hmlu) – allowing multiple policy lessons and experiences to be shared.”

The NURSE Corps Loan Repayment Program (formerly the Nursing Education Loan Repayment Program) invites applications from registered nurses (including advanced practice nurses and nursing faculty). To apply you must be a licensed registered nurse, have completed your training (diploma, associate, baccalaureate or graduate), and be employed full time (at least 32 hours per week) at an eligible critical shortage facility. Online applications due February 28. http://tinyurl.com/25se7zz

— The MHTA Foundation has opened applications for their 2013 Scholarship program. Scholarships ranging from $2,500 – $5,000 are available to students studying STEM disciplines.  Applications are due March 31, 2013http://tinyurl.com/bcwn98s

— Environmental Initiative Awards – 2013 Call for Nominations.  The Environmental Initiative Awards annually honor innovative projects that have achieved extraordinary environmental results by harnessing the power of partnership. From large statewide efforts to small-scale locally based projects, many of Minnesota’s most innovative environmental efforts have succeeded as a result of collaboration.

Awards nominations for 2013 are being accepted for three weeks beginning on February 5th. Finalists will be chosen by a team of judges, all experts in their environmental fields, hailing from a diversity of backgrounds and sectors. Finalist projects will be announced publicly in early April.

At the annual Environmental Initiative Awards Dinner each May:

• Fifteen finalist projects, three in each of the five award categories, are honored.

• One winner in each category is announced.

• One of the fifteen finalist projects receives the Partnership of the Year Award. In the true spirit of partnership, audience members are asked to place their vote to select the winner of this award.

• Members of Minnesota’s environmental community join the fun, celebration, and inspiration as the state’s environmental success stories are recognized.

For information or to apply for the 2013 Awards, visit http://tinyurl.com/7rvtemx Contact Andrea Robbins at Environmental Initiative at 612-334-3388 ext. 109 with questions or to learn more.

— Call for Talent: ART AS ENERGY.  Center for Energy and Environment (CEE) views public art as an opportunity to apply new perspective to on-the-ground knowledge, moving people to act in society’s best interest and become more energy-conscious consumers. With assistance from Forecast Public Art, CEE developed Call for Talent: ART AS ENERGY to engage local artists with a goal of fostering innovative artwork in the public realm that will engage viewers, raise awareness of the use and consequences of energy consumption, and inspire new choices.

The organization is seeking creative individuals or teams who wish to learn more about the world of energy and energy in the world, then turn their expanded knowledge and insights into creative ideas for implementation in the Twin Cities—ideas that CEE will support and promote to a broad and diverse audience. Individuals and collaborative teams are invited to submit letters of interest, along with work samples and résumés, by March 15th, 2013.

CEE and Forecast will select 5-10 individuals or teams to participate in a specially designed Energy 101 Workshop led by scientists, engineers, designers, and policy makers.  Finalists selected to participate in the workshop will be paid $500 each to develop project proposals.  For more information, including submission requirements, go to: http://tinyurl.com/b2wvlag

MISCELLANEOUS

— The Rural Health Advisory Committee (RHAC) has released a new Issue Brief on rural hospital system growth and consolidation. The brief shows a clear trend in the number of Minnesota hospitals joining larger systems, but suggests that at least among Critical Access Hospitals (CAHs), there are not substantial differences in how independent and affiliated hospital CEOs feel their institutions are faring in terms of recruitment, access to services, electronic health record adoption or sustainability. For more information, contact Paul Jansen at paul.jansen@state.mn.us or 651-201-3854. http://tinyurl.com/axz8loa

The U.S. Bioenergy Statistics are a source of information on biofuels intended to present a picture of the renewable energy industry and its relationship to agriculture. Where appropriate, data are presented in both a calendar year and the relevant marketing year timeframe to increase utility to feedstock-oriented users. The statistics highlight the factors that influence the demand for agricultural feedstocks for biofuels production; for instance, numerous tables emphasize the relationship between energy and commodity markets.  Go to: http://tinyurl.com/9yj8yn8

— Despite a severe drought, profits in the U.S. farm sector soared in 2012.  Although total farm incomes remained high, the drought exacerbated a widening gulf in profitability between the crop and livestock sectors.  This issue of the

Main Street Economist explores the possibility that the pendulum of farm profits may be about to swinghttp://tinyurl.com/ahkyzm3

Atlas of Rural and Small-Town America View the diversity of challenges and opportunities across America’s counties within different types of rural regions and communities. Get statistics on people, jobs, and agriculture. Data reflecting the 2007-2011 American Community Survey have been added to the Atlas. http://tinyurl.com/6scxwb5

Rural CDFIs: Creating connections to marketplaces a conversation with Mary Mathews of the Entrepreneur Fund. The Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis’ Community Dividend speaks with Mary Mathews, founding president and CEO of the Entrepreneur Fund, to learn about the circumstances and challenges rural community development financial institutions (CDFIs) face. http://tinyurl.com/auy2v4d

Making the Most of MAP-21 describes the 2012 Federal Transportation Law and addresses the challenges and opportunities posed by its provisions–including grants and programs specific to rural communities. http://tinyurl.com/bjj4cdd

2012 USDA Progress Report
 describes how USDA’s investments in rural communities helped to improve the economic stability of rural towns, businesses, residents, farmers and ranchers and improve the quality of life in rural America. Also, explains how Federal employees across America are partnering with local citizens to help rural communities at large. http://tinyurl.com/b2sve8t

Opening Doors to Rural Home Ownership: Opportunities to Expand Homeownership, Build Wealth, and Strengthen Communities
documents successful federal strategies for providing affordable housing to low-income rural families. Report focuses on homeownership programs administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Housing Service (RHS). http://tinyurl.com/b2ledq4

— A new report from the Housing Assistance Council (HAC) discusses the housing crisis in rural America. Despite enjoying generally lower housing costs, an increasing number of rural households struggle with poverty. Get the report http://tinyurl.com/ahmabyk

— Morgan Stanley, Kresge Foundation and LISC launch $100 million investment fund called the Healthy Futures Fund that links health and housing. The fund is a first-of-its-kind public-private fund that uses an innovative mix of tax credits, grants and loans to finance 500 apartments with integrated health services and eight federally-qualified health centers serving 75,000 people. Read about it http://tinyurl.com/azwl253

— Shelterforce Rooflines blog posted “10 Things That Did Not Happen in Rural Housing in 2012”. Read the post http://tinyurl.com/bz2thyd

— The National Housing Conference reports in their Washington Wire that a new AARP report finds that older adults are spending more of their income on housing which is negatively impacting their ability to maintain lifestyles and save for the future. Read the report http://tinyurl.com/bx9bkfp

–The Center for Rural Entrepreneurship has gathered insights from what he has learned about what works in economic, and more specifically, entrepreneurial development and published it in a thought piece called “Keys to Economic Success”.  You can read the piece http://tinyurl.com/bfcqqu3

The National Rural Housing Coalition has released “Opening Doors to Rural Home Ownership: Opportunities to Expand Homeownership, Build Wealth, and Strengthen Communities”. The report documents successful federal strategies for providing affordable housing to low-income rural families, and focuses on homeownership programs administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Housing Service. Get a copy http://tinyurl.com/bds2nmo

–“Grow Your Own Guide” is a resource from The Kansas City Federal Reserve Bank on economic development models that use entrepreneurship and small business development as the tool to create community economic growth.  Get a free copy http://tinyurl.com/aylf4kk

–The Rural Community Assistance Partnership has published an overview of its work, describing how the Rural Community Assistance Partnership works in small, rural communities across the United States, its territories, and in tribal areas. Download a copy http://tinyurl.com/acacoad

— CFED has released the 2013 Assets & Opportunity Scorecard. According to the Scorecard, nearly half of all U.S. households lack the safety net needed to weather an emergency. The report finds that despite strong signs of economic recovery, millions of Americans are still living on the brink of financial disaster. Get the Scorecard http://tinyurl.com/88ggx4d

The Potential Impact of Tax Reform on Farm Businesses and Rural Households. Key elements of proposed tax reform, reducing accelerated deductions for capital purchases and raising capital gains tax rates, could increase tax liabilities for many farmers. Other elements could reduce tax liabilities. http://tinyurl.com/aevucdd

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