December 2013– Volume XI, Number 11

 Compiled & Edited by Deb Miller-Slipek, Ann Treacy, and Jane Leonard

  •  — ACROSS THE FIELD — Guest columnist: Bernadine Joselyn from the Blandin Foundation
  • — FUNDING
  • — QUICK STUDY
  • — MEETINGS/TRAINING
  • — OPPORTUNITIES
  • — MISC ELLANEOUS

Across the Field: Rural Broadband is a Sound Investment in Minnesota’s Prosperity

by guest columnist Bernadine Joselyn

The Blandin Foundation has supported rural community leaders’ efforts to bring home the full benefits of broadband for 10 years. Our mission — strengthening rural Minnesota communities – is broad (pardon the pun), so why focus on broadband, you may ask?

The answer is that we recognize broadband as the indispensible infrastructure of our age.  We believe that without the availability of ultra-high speed broadband and the ability to use it, rural communities cannot survive, let alone thrive.

Governor Dayton’s appointment of Danna MacKenzie as the first director of the recently created Office of Broadband Development is good news for Minnesota, and especially for rural Minnesota.  Danna is a seasoned leader with deep experience in community-driven, community-focused broadband work. Hailing from Grand Marais, Danna combines a deep techy resume, unabashed geek-a-tude knowledge of this fast-moving sector, political savvy and collaboration skills, commitment, and vision with personal lived-experience of deep rural Minnesota.  As a longtime member of Blandin Foundation’s Broadband Strategy Board, and a partner in the Minnesota Intelligent Rural Communities initiative, Danna has made important contributions to rural Minnesota’s broadband adoption development efforts.

Danna is a great pick to help steer Minnesota closer to the Governor’s vision of “border to border broadband” at the state access goals of  5-10 Mbps up and 10-20 Mbps downstream for all Minnesotans.  The goals call for the support of community leaders across the state interested in broadband and rural issues.

The disparity between urban and rural broadband access is real and persistent. A recent Connect Minnesota report indicates that 74.5 percent of Minnesota households can access fixed and mobile broadband at speeds of at least 10 Mbps download/6 Mbps upload. That is an improvement of almost five percent since April. However, the coverage map also makes clear that access at those speeds is uneven and metro-centric. Earlier Connect Minnesota reports show a troubling seven percent difference in urban versus rural broadband adoption rates.

Perhaps not coincidentally, there is also a disparity in our state between urban and rural economic recovery and growth. State Senator Matt Schmit and State Representative Rod Hamilton highlighted the disparity between urban and rural prosperity in a recent editorial in the Star Tribune. They write: “Greater Minnesota’s infrastructure shortcomings vary from roads to sewers, but significant disparities in broadband Internet connectivity are keeping much of Greater Minnesota from truly ‘connecting’. …  The Twin Cities have long been the state’s economic epicenter, but the gap between Minneapolis-St. Paul and the rest of [Minnesota] is widening. … Absent strong secondary drivers, rural areas face the risk of returning to recession as jobs and residents flock to the Twin Cities.”

Strategic Networks Group, a Colorado-based company that has nearly 20 years’ experience helping communities with their technology investment options, reports  that 23.4% of all new jobs created in the economies they have studied are directly attributable to broadband; 56 percent of businesses said that access to high-speed broadband was essential for remaining in their current location, and businesses that increase their utilization of broadband by ten percent realize a 24 percent gain in revenue and a seven percent reduction in costs.

We have found that supporting rural leaders’ efforts to boost broadband adoption spurs more, and more sophisticated, use among every segment of a community. Broadband adoption growth in Minnesota Rural Intelligent Communities (MIRC) grew nearly 15 percent faster than in the rest of rural Minnesota. The communities that reported the highest rates of participation in these market development activities also experienced the highest rates of broadband subscription growth.

We also see that in rural communities whose leaders invest time and energy to improve broadband access, it is becoming that “secondary driver,” for economic development – and for education, health care, civic engagement, and quality of life.

Increased use in rural areas helps build the demand that supports the business case for greater broadband deployment in rural.  And as we know from Metcalfe’s Law: the value of a telecommunications network is proportional to the square of the number of connected users of the system.  In other words, the more users, the greater value for everyone.

And finally, our friends at Minnesota Rural Partners did a great job of making the case that investment in rural areas benefits urban and the state as a whole in their report Pilot Study: Estimating Rural and Urban Minnesota’s Interdependencies.

So it makes good business sense all the way around – money spent on broadband adoption and deployment in rural (and everywhere) is a good investment!  I think we could help Danna make her case if we all join her in spreading that message.

Bernadine Joselyn is director of public policy and engagement at Blandin Foundation. She also serves on the Governor’s Broadband Task Force.

This just in…. Voice your transportation views to MnDOT AND 3 meals will be donated to Second Harvest Heartland for each completed survey!

Share your opinion by taking the MN Department of Transportation survey www.mndotsurvey.com. It is an opportunity for you to voice your views on transportation issues and help MnDOT understand how the people of Minnesota feel about its services. MnDOT will use the results of this survey to inform transportation priorities for the entire state. Also, three meals will be donated for each completed survey (up to 3,000 meals total) to Second Harvest Heartland to help Minnesotans in need. Take the survey: www.mndotsurvey.com

FUNDING                

Minnesota’s Angel Tax Credit provides a 25-percent credit to investors or investment funds that put money into startup companies focused on high technology or new proprietary technology. The maximum credit is $125,000 per person, per year ($250,000 if filing jointly). The credit is refundable and non-Minnesota residents (including residents of foreign countries) are eligible.  A total of $12 million in tax credits is available in calendar year 2014.  For more information go to: http://mn.gov/deed/business/financing-business/tax-credits/angel-tax-credit/

–The Coca-Cola Foundation is offering grants to nonprofit organizations that address community needs and priorities in a meaningful way. The Foundation supports programs that focus on one of the following four categories: water stewardship; healthy and active lifestyles that lead to physical activity and nutritional education programs; community recycling; and education. Online applications may be submitted throughout the year. Visit the Foundation’s website here to review guidelines and application procedures.

–Wells Fargo and the National Fish & Wildlife Foundations are accepting applications for the Environmental Solutions for Communities grant program. Grants of up to $100,000 will be awarded in support of highly visible projects in regions where Wells Fargo operates that link economic development and community well-being to the stewardship and health of the environment. Deadline: 12/16/2013. Visit the website by clicking here.

–The Notah Begay III Foundation offers capacity building grants to support projects focusing on the prevention of childhood obesity and type 2 diabetes among Native American children. Preference will be given to organizations from the Southwest (Arizona, New Mexico), the Upper Midwest (Minnesota, Wisconsin), and the Southern Plains (Oklahoma, Texas); however, applications will be accepted from anywhere in the United States. Priority will be given to proposals that demonstrate strong community engagement and a readiness to develop key strategies and an action plan. U.S. based Native American-controlled nonprofit organizations, tribal governments, and Native American community-based groups with a 501(c)(3) fiscal sponsor are eligible to apply. The application deadline is: 12/16/2013. Click here to visit the Foundation’s website for guidelines and to download the Request for Proposals.

–Application materials are now available for the Electronic Health Record (EHR) Loan Program. Funds are intended primarily for EHR software, hardware, training and support expenses. Priority applicants are critical access hospitals; federally qualified health centers; entities that serve uninsured, underinsured and medically underserved individuals (urban or rural); individual or small group practices focused on primary care; nursing facilities and elderly waiver facilities. Loans are six-year, no-interest with the first year’s repayment deferred. Applications due December 19th.

–The CDFI Fund has opened the FY 2014 Funding Round for the CDFI Program and Native American CDFI Assistance (NACA) Program to Support Community Development in Low-Income Communities. The funds available to make awards are subject to final appropriations. Deadline to apply for CDFI Program and the NACA Program: 12/23/2013. For information both programs, click here.

–The Dakota Medical Foundation seeks entries to its Breakthrough Idea Challenge, which will award a total of $500,000 in 2014 for new ideas that significantly improve the health of people in the company’s service area (which includes the Minnesota counties of Becker, Clay, Clearwater, Hubbard, Mahnomen, Norman, Ottertail, Pennington, Polk, Red Lake, Wadena and Wilkin). Focus areas include ways to help people access health care or medicine; ways to retain physicians and nurses in rural areas; fitness and healthy weight innovations; and ways to improve the health impact of organizations in the region. Ideas accepted through December 31.

–FISKARS is offering Community Garden Grants to provide funding for tools, materials, and other support to help communities reach their goals for neighborhood beautification, community collaboration, and healthy, sustainable food sources. Deadline: 12/31/2013. Click here to visit the website and to apply.

Made in Minnesota First Incentive Amounts Set for 2014.  The Minnesota Department of Commerce announced on Nov. 22 the 2014 incentive amounts for its 10-year, $15-million-a-year Made in Minnesota Solar Incentive Program, to launch Jan. 1, 2014.

Made in Minnesota was one of several initiatives enacted by the 2013 Legislature to increase deployment of solar energy throughout the state. It will help achieve the state’s new solar electricity standard, which calls for 1.5 percent of electric sales from investor-owned utilities (Xcel Energy, Alliant Energy, Minnesota Power, and Otter Tail Power) to come from solar electricity by 2020.

The incentives for solar electric systems from the Made in Minnesota Solar Incentive Program will be available to customers of investor-owned utilities who install solar electric, or solar photovoltaic (PV), systems using solar modules or collectors certified as manufactured in Minnesota. Modules from two Minnesota companies—tenKsolar and Silicon Energy—have been certified for the program to date. Solar PV systems must be less than 40 kilowatts (kW) to qualify for incentives.

Applications will be accepted annually between Jan. 1 – Feb. 28 each year through 2023 and will be selected by lottery. Applications will be available at the Commerce website beginning Jan. 1, 2014.

—-The Susan G. Komen Minnesota is accepting applications to its 2014 Community Grants Program for innovative programs in the areas of breast health and breast cancer education, screening, diagnosis, treatment, treatment support, survivorship and health care delivery/systems change. A funding priority area this year is northwest Minnesota, including applications from Kittson, Roseau, Lake of the Woods, Marshall, Beltrami, Polk, Pennington, Clearwater, Red Lake, Norman, Mahnomen and Hubbard counties. Applications due January 10, 2014.

–National Endowment for the Arts has announced the 2014 Our Town Grant guidelines. Depending on the availability of funding, grants will range from $25,000 to $200,000. Deadline to apply: 1/13/2014. Click here for an application.

–Blackstone Charitable Foundation is accepting proposals from nonprofits serving veterans and active servicemen and women transitioning to civilian life. Deadline: 1/14/2014. Click here to visit the Foundation’s website.

–The Administration for Children and Families is offering grants to provide services through transitional living programs or maternity group homes for runaway and homeless youth, including youth from rural areas. Application deadline: 1/15/2014. Click here to visit the website.  

–The American Association of University Women (AAUW) is accepting applications for Community Action Grants of up to $10,000. Grants are available to individuals, AAUW branches and AAUW state organizations as well as local community-based nonprofit organizations for innovative programs or non-degree research projects that promote education and equity for women. Deadline: 1/15/2014. Click here to learn more about the AAUW.

–The Office of Rural Health Policy (ORHP) is accepting applications to its FY 2014 Rural Health Network Development Planning Grant Program. A rural health network is defined as an organizational arrangement among at least three separately owned regional or local health care providers that come together to develop strategies for improving health services delivery systems in a community. Networks can include a wide range of community partners including social service agencies, faith-based organizations, mental health agencies, charitable organizations, educational institutions, employers, local government agencies or other entities with an interest in a community’s health care system. Applications due January 16.

–The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is offering grants to nonprofit and public agencies for both assessment and cleanup work at a specific Brownfield site. Deadline: 1/22/2014. Click here for more information about these grants.

–The Department of Labor is offering grants to nonprofits, LEAs and others to provide high school students with education and training that combines rigorous academic and technical curricula focused on specific in-demand occupations and industries. Deadline: 1/27/2014. Click here for guidelines and an application.

Grant Funds Now Available for Sustainable Farming Innovations. The Minnesota Department of Agriculture’s (MDA) Sustainable Agriculture Demonstration Grant Program will award up to $250,000 in 2014 for on-farm sustainable agriculture research or demonstration projects. Governor Dayton and the Minnesota Legislature increased funding for the Sustainable Ag Grant Program by $150,000 during the 2013 legislative session.

The MDA is now accepting applications for the grant program which promotes environmental stewardship and conservation of resources and strives to improve profitability and quality of life on farms and in rural areas.

The grant application is available on the MDA website at www.mda.state.mn.us/grants/grants/demogrant.aspx or by contacting the Agricultural Marketing and Development Division at 651-201-6012. Completed applications must be received by MDA no later than January 29, 2014.

Examples of eligible projects include fruit and vegetable production, conservation tillage and weed management, integrated pest management, livestock production, organic farming, alternative energy crop production, and specialty crops as an alternative market.  These and other grant projects are highlighted in the Greenbook, which is free and available at www.mda.state.mn.us/greenbook.

East Central Regional Arts Council (ECRAC) FY 2014  grant application materials are now online at:  http://www.ecrac.org/grants  The next grant deadlines are February 1, 2013.  

–William G. and Marie Selby Foundation is accepting applications from nonprofits for capital grants for the construction, acquisition and/or renovation of facilities, as well as the purchase of equipment or software. Projects focusing on education, human services, arts and community projects including history, science, and/or the environment will be given top priority. Deadline: 2/1/2014. Click here to visit the website for guidelines and an application.

–Lowes Charitable and Education Foundation is accepting applications for the 2014 Toolbox for Education Grant Program. Grants of up to $5,000 will be awarded in support of facility improvement projects that have a permanent impact on a K-12 school community. Deadline: 2/14/2014. Click here to visit the website and review program guidelines.

–The Kazanjian Foundation is offering grants to nonprofits for projects with national impact that address issues of economic education. The average grant is approximately $22,000, however grants as small as $3,500 and as large as $150,000 have been made. Occasionally, multi-year grants are made for larger projects. Deadline: 2/15/2014. Click here to go to the Foundation’s website for guidelines and an application.

–The Open Meadows Foundation supports projects that are designed and implemented by women and girls; reflect the diversity of the community served by the project; promote building community power; and encourage racial, social, economic, and environmental justice. The Foundation provides grants of up to $2,000 to cover start-up expenses or to support ongoing projects and also administers a number of special funds that are targeted to specific groups or activities. The next application deadline is: 2/15/2014. Funding guidelines and application instructions are available on the Foundation’s website here.

–The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is also offering grants to nonprofit and public agencies for developing inventories of Brownfield sites, prioritizing sites, conducting community involvement activities, and conducting site assessments and cleanup planning related to Brownfield sites. Deadline: 2/21/2014. Click here for guidelines and to apply.

–USDA has announced the availability of nearly $10.5 million in grants through the Value-Added Producer Grant program. Grants are available to help agricultural producers create new products, expand marketing opportunities, support further processing of existing products or goods, or to develop specialty and niche products. The maximum working capital grant is $200,000; the maximum planning grant is $75,000. Deadline: 2/24/2014. Click here to read the NOFA for more information.

QUICK STUDY

What Does It Mean to Bring an Equity Mindset to Civic/Community Work? The Civic Leadership Institute Online (CLIO) will be sponsoring a free, text-based online forum from December 3-17, which offers you the opportunity to explore an important topic with colleagues whenever you’re available over the next two weeks. The forum facilitators are Artika Tyner, Director of Diversity and Clinical Faculty at the University of St. Thomas School of Law, and Chelle Lyons Hanson, Director of Student Leadership and Service at Concordia College. Join the conversation.

TRAINING/MEETINGS

The Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI) Fund has released the schedule for a training series on “Financing Community Health Centers”. Starting in January 2014, four free two-day trainings will be provided for certified CDFIs that have the capacity to launch or expand their current community health center lending portfolio. The current list of training dates is as follows: January 23-24: San Francisco, California; March 5-6 in Atlanta, Georgia, May 1-2 in Boston, Massachusetts, and May 21-22 in Chicago, Illinois. Click here to apply to attend one of the free training sessions.  The Fund will hold an informational webinar on the training series on December 11, 2013 at 2:00 PM EST. Click here to register for the webinar.

The State Economic Competitiveness Summit will be held Wednesday, January 22, 2014, at the St. Paul RiverCentre.  At just $95 to attend, limited space will fill quickly.  Register Now

Do you have a Facebook business page or a Twitter account but struggle to make good use of them? Attend a one-hour webinar on Jan. 29 at 11 a.m. by the University of Minnesota Extension to learn strategies and tactics small businesses are using to engage with customers using social media. Register online at http://z.umn.edu/webinarseries.

Save the Date for “Minnesota Tourism: A Bright Future”.  Mark your calendar now to attend the 2014 Explore Minnesota Tourism conference February 4-5, 2014 at the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center on Canal Park in Duluth.

–The Minnesota Inventors Congress will be held May 2 & 3, 2014 at the Minneapolis Convention Center.  Inventions and traditions will converge on Friday and Saturday, May 2 & 3, 2014, at the Minneapolis Convention Center, in Minneapolis, MN with the 57th annual Invention Expo, hosted by the Minnesota Inventors Congress (MIC).  This Minnesota tradition is the oldest annual invention convention in the nation.  The Minneapolis venue is a major change for this internationally recognized invention showcase.

The Expo is designed to help inventors test market their products. The inventors learn that by showcasing their latest product in a traditional trade show format. The general public is encouraged to attend because inventors need that public feedback to determine if there is a market for their product. Some inventors have market ready products that attendees can purchase. Product development experts from manufacturing, licensing, prototyping and others are also encouraged to attend the show to help inventors take their products to the next level in the product development process. Through our Inventing Success™ Workshops, aspiring inventors attend sessions that will help them learn the process of developing marketable products. Topics for these expert lead sessions may include intellectual property protection; writing a business plan; prototype development; sell sheets; licensing vs. going it alone; is your product right for direct response sales; and marketing. One of the most popular places on the show floor is the area for elementary school students who are showcasing solutions they invented to help solve a problem they have identified.

OPPORTUNITIES

–Each year 3M invites local teachers to participate in the 3M TWIST program (Teachers Working in Science and Technology) offered in collaboration with the Minnesota High Technology Foundation. This program provides a hands-on six week industrial science experience for Grades 7-12 Science, Math, Tech Ed., and Industrial Arts teachers under the supervision of a 3M scientist. Semi-weekly lunch sessions focus on a variety of topics including intellectual property and product development, and include tours of pilot plants and research facilities. This opportunity offers a $4500 stipend to the participating teachers as well as an opportunity to earn up to 4 graduate level semester credits through St. Mary’s University. The TWIST application can be found online at: http://3m.com/twist.

Minnesota Literacy Council Seeking AmeriCorps VISTA Projects 

The Minnesota Literacy Council is now accepting proposals for new AmeriCorps VISTA projects.

MORE

The Resilient Communities Project is now accepting proposals from cities and counties to be the RCP community partner for 2014-2015.  RCP is a year-long partnership between the University of Minnesota and one local community in Minnesota. Through the partnership, students and faculty from across the University collaborate with the partner community to address its self-defined sustainability-related needs through course-based projects. The collaboration results in on-the-ground impact and momentum for a community working toward a more sustainable and livable future.

RCP provides the partner community with efficient access to the broad base of sustainability expertise at the University of Minnesota by matching community-identified projects with graduate and upper-level undergraduate courses that can address the needs of the community. The partner community supports the effort through dedicated staff time and a local funding contribution.

RCP serves communities addressing sustainability at the local or regional scale. Cities, counties, and clusters of communities along a transportation corridor, around a regional center, or within a watershed are eligible to apply. To minimize travel time and costs, applicant communities should ideally be located within a two-hour drive of Minneapolis. Communities located further away from Minneapolis may be considered if additional funds are contributed for overnight travel costs.

For more information or to download the Request for Proposals packet, visit http://rcp.umn.edu/home/communities/apply-to-rcp/

—-The EDA Center at the University of Minnesota Crookston is accepting Requests for Proposals.  This Request for Assistance (RFA) is designed to solicit requests from community, county and regional economic development agencies seeking direct technical assistance to support their economic development activities. This RFA will be the mechanism by which the EDA Center will identify its annual technical assistance projects.   All project requests will be assessed by EDA Center staff and advisory council for staff costs and time commitments.

Eligible Applicants: Public, tribal-supported and nonprofit economic development agencies supporting rural areas.

Types of Assistance: The EDA Center does not specifically define the types of assistance that rural economic development agencies may seek. Accordingly, the EDA Center will accept and review all requests for assistance from eligible applicants. The driving consideration in evaluating RFAs are potential regional impact and availability of university expertise. Typically, the EDA Center has found success finding expertise in assisting economic development in organizations in the following ways:

  • · Market Research
  • · Technology Studies
  • · Workforce Development Studies & Support
  • · Economic Impact Analysis
  • · Student-supported Projects and Internships
  • · Product Development Assistance
  • · Strategic Planning Services
  • · Statistical Studies
  • · Technology Deployment Planning
  • · Support of Entrepreneurial Program Development

Project Timelines: Due to constraints of EDA funding, project time lines should be less than 12 months in duration.

Costs of Assistance: The EDA Center does not have require matching resources it delivers technical assistance to, however we generally limit average project costs to less than $20,000. In addition, the EDA Center takes a partnership approach with the organizations it serves rather than an outside consultant. This means that technical assistance projects include clear mutual responsibilities between the EDA Center and the economic development agency.

EDA Center Priorities: The EDA Center will assess technical assistance requests based on the following criteria:

1. Location is in an economically-distressed area.

2. Impact on job creation, recruitment or retention.

3. Impact on the effectiveness of the economic development agency.

4. Project duration of less than 12 months.

5. Overall project costs.

How to Apply: The application process to request assistance from the EDA Center is simple and streamlined. Simply complete the RFA application along with a cover letter. Applications can be downloaded and submitted via email or completed and submitted online. The PDF can be downloaded at http://www.edacenter.org/downloads/EDA_RFA_Form.pdf. The online application can be found at http://www.edacenter.org/technicalAssistance_request.php.

Application Deadlines: There are no set deadlines for submitting technical assistance requests. Each application will be evaluated and responded to in a timely manner.

Have Questions?:   Contact Brent D. Hales, Ph.D., EDA Center Director at (w) 612-626-8256; (c) 601-467-1280 or email at bdhales@umn.edu.

You may also contact Kevin Cooper, EDA Center Associate Director at 218-281-8187 or email at coope474@crk.umn.edu.

MISCELLANEOUS

–Rural America at a Glance, 2013 Edition.  Since 2011, net job growth in nonmetro areas has been near zero while metro employment has grown 1.4 percent annually. Meanwhile, the first recorded period of nonmetro population loss occurred between 2010 and 2012.

Rural Veterans at a Glance. Veterans possess education and skill levels that position them to contribute economically to rural communities. ERS presents a social and demographic profile of veterans residing in rural areas.

The LISC Institute for Comprehensive Community Development has launched a “How to Do It” section on its website. If you need to prepare a Request for Proposals for a new quality-of-life plan, or develop strategies for integrating community safety into your neighborhood development plan, or you could use some tips on how to design and benefit from a good evaluation process, the site has information to share so you don’t have to start from scratch. Visit the website here.

–A new joint report by PolicyLink and The Food Trust, “Access to Healthy Food and Why It Matters: A Review of the Research” emphasizes that access to healthy food is the foundation necessary for good health. The report shows that without grocery stores and other fresh food retailers, communities are also missing the commercial vitality that makes neighborhoods livable and helps local economies thrive. Read the report here.

–The National Rural Funders Collaborative has published “Race, Poverty, and Transforming Rural Economies: Lessons Learned after Ten Years of Collaboration” which includes a discussion guide. Download a .pdf of the report here.  

Demos and Northwest Area Foundation have released a report titled, “Running in Place: Where the Middle Class and Poor Meet”.  From the report: “Millions are working hard to move forward, or just to make ends meet, and getting nowhere. Anyone who wishes to address poverty and strengthen economic opportunity needs to connect the dots between the needs of the working poor and those of the middle class.” Download a copy of the report here.

–An article in Shelterforce Magazine “Lighting a Spark Between Energy Advocates and Community Development” makes the case for finding ways to effectively use utility company-sponsored green retrofit programs to help fund energy-related capital improvements. Read the article here.

HUD announced the 2014 “Difficult to Develop Areas” (DDAs) for the purpose of the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit program (LIHTC). A DDA, as designated by HUD, is an area that has high construction, land, and utility costs relative to the area median gross income. A LIHTC project in a qualified DDA is eligible to receive up to a 30 percent higher LIHTC allocation in order to make the building financially feasible. Read the Federal Register notice here.

–Housing Assistance Council has published “Housing Conditions for Rural Farmworkers” that documents the working conditions and low wages that hinder farm workers ability to access affordable and quality housing. Click here to download the report.

–In the Washington Post’s Wonkblog, a post titled “The Real Loser of the Recession is Rural America” revealed that the USDA’s annual survey of rural America shows that non-metropolitan areas experienced their first recorded period of population loss, and a decline in the labor force participation rate pushed unemployment down slightly. Get USDA’s survey results here. Read the Washington Post piece here.

Final Report from the 2013 National Rural Assembly. The National Rural Assembly is a network of more than 500 organizations and individuals across the United States working collaboratively to build a stronger, more resilient rural America. The report provides a good snapshot of the current state of rural America. MORE

Emerging Energy Industries and Rural Growth.  Production of wind power, corn-based ethanol, and unconventionally extracted natural gas more than doubled overall from 2000 to 2010. USDA ERS looks at the contribution these emerging-energy industries have made to local economies.

Finding Homes for Rural Foster Children
Rural America needs foster and adoptive homes in each community, with families trained, licensed and ready to care for the town’s own children if the need ever arises.

Rural Economic Development Resource Directory is provided by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency.  This directory provides descriptions and contact information for a number of organizations and Web sites that can provide resources to banks interested in lending, investing, or providing retail financial services in rural communities. These activities are organized under following:

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