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The Rural Developer - 2nd Quarter 2008


Quarter II, 2008

In this issue:

2008 NREDA Conference

Effective Entrepreneurship Strategies

Hometown Competitiveness Project

New Farm Bill Shy on Rural Development

NREDA How To Lobby Guide

Effective Grant Writing

Upcoming Events


2008 Board of Directors

Pat Merritt, president
Henry Fischer, 1st vice president
Rick Shortell, 2nd vice president
Rick Nelson, secretary-treas.
Sherry Rose, past president

Fred Baughman
Brad Captain
Andrea Cumpston
Bobby Davis
Lori Fischetti
Mark Gaddy
Clare Gustin
Tom Lambrecht
Jane Marden
Eric Phillips
Stan Williamson
2008 Committee Chairs
Fred Baughman, Awards
Karen Mitchell, Legislative/Government Affairs
Henry Fischer, Annual Conference
Eric Phillips, Membership
Bob Muirhead, Professional Development

Membership dues, billing, and registrations:
Lynn Harkin at
Rural Developer:
Mary Logan Wolf,
NREDA Conference:
Molly Lopez,
Lynn Harkin,
Administrative Support:
Casey Lewis,
NREDA Web site:
Darcy Watson,

DHL Delivers Savings
NREDA members can save up to 25% on DHL's full suite of shipping services, including next day, 2nd day, ground, and international delivery services. Set up a
free accountor call 1-800-MEMBERS (800-636-2377), 8am-6pm EST.

NREDA members appreciate sharing ideas, suggestions, and development solutions. What's going on in your area? Is there a resource or solution you think other member should know about? Let us know:

Member Updates
Update your membership information at

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Meet us in Kansas City for the 2008 NREDA Conference
It's not too soon to get excited about the 2008 NREDA Conference.Scheduled for November 9-11 in Kansas City, the conference features an outstanding lineup of nationally known presenters and in-depth sessions that target the information you need to build healthy rural communities.

Conference topics include today's green economy, entrepreneurship, rail-served economic development, angel investing, education-workforce-business partnerships, cutting-edge telecommunications, redevelopment, and leadership. Plus, you'll enjoy plenty of time to network with fellow rural developers.

Find full conference details, registration, and Kansas City tourism information at Please check it out, and make your reservations soon.

NREDA Conference Lodging and Reservations
The NREDA Conference location and hotel is the Hilton President, 1329 Baltimore, Kansas City, MO. The hotel is located in the new downtown Kansas City Power & Light District, an $8 billion downtown redevelopment project featuring entertainment, shops, recreation and special events. Reservations may be made through 1-800-HILTONS,, or call the hotel direct at (816) 221-9490. Please refer to the group name (NREDA) in order to receive the special group rate of $149/single or double.
NREDA's How to Lobby Guide Available
Lobbying local, state and federal officials is critical to protecting and enhancing rural economic development initiatives. To help NREDA members lobby effectively, the NREDA legislative/governmental affairs committee published the NREDA How To Lobby Your Legislators guide.

Karen Mitchell, committee chair, says, "So much of what we do as developers is impacted by legislation so it is very important that we present our issues in a way that yields the best possible results. The committee has taken what can be an intimidating process and broken it down step by step. We hope you find it to be a useful tool."

NREDA thanks the following committee members for their input: Linda Yohon, Rural Telephone Service Co.; Andrea Cumpston, National Rural Telecommunications Cooperative; Brad Captain, National Rural Utilities Co-op Finance Corporation; Jane Marden, NRECA; and Rick Shortell, Union Electric Cooperative.

NREDA Leadership Awards Seeks Nominees
Rural leaders deserve proper recognition for their hard work. If you know someone whose efforts or rural leadership qualify as extraordinary, please nominate them for an NREDA Rural Economic Leadership Award.

Submit the nomination form to NREDA by no later than June 23. If you have questions about the awards, please contact Fred Baughman, committee chairman,

Effective Entrepreneurship: Strategies You Can Use
If your community wants to bolster its struggling economy, start with the understanding that entrepreneurs are made, not born. Nancy Stark, director of field development for the Washington D.C. based Corporation for Enterprise Development (CFED), says more and more studies show that business recruitment - the dreamy pursuit of industries promising 100+ jobs - may not be in the best interests of rural America. Homegrown development, Stark says, is where the future lies.

Hometown Competitiveness Project Builds Better Communities
In the 1990s, Valley County, Nebraska, population 4,647, lost 10 percent of its population. While county leaders had an economic development plan in place, their strategy focused primarily on attracting an industry.

Today, Valley County counts 110 new businesses, 13 expansions, $89 million in local investments and 320 new jobs. None of this economic boon is the result of a major industry relocating. Instead, Valley County secured its future by focusing on inside resources, a grassroots approach known as the Hometown Competitiveness (HTC) project.

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Have you come across valuable information or resources you'd like to share with fellow NREDA members? Are you involved in project you'd like others to know about? If so, share the news in the Rural Developer Member-to-Member section. Send info to Mary Logan Wolf, or Molly Lopez at

New Farm Bill Shy on Rural Development
What does new farm bill mean for rural economic development? Henry Fischer, NREDA vice president, shares a thought-provoking essay by Matt Chase, executive director of the National Association Development Organizations (NADO).

Chase says, "The current portfolio of USDA Rural Development programs is grossly under funded. The mission area has a project backlog exceeding $2 billion today, and even worse, much of this log jam is for the honor of tapping into USDA's loan and loan guarantee programs, not even for the agency's much prized and dwindling grant resources. Urban America wouldn't stand for this treatment, neither should rural America."

Southeast Georgia finds regional sustenance in Altamaha River

As counties come together to promote economic development resources, NREDA President Pat Merritt recommends they look to the Altamaha River Partnership (ARP) as a model example.

Merritt, who facilitated early planning sessions for the group says, "Not only did the ARP do the necessary homework and planning, they stayed true to their vision while creating jobs and opportunities that attract tourist dollars."

The ARP began ten years ago when leaders from chambers of commerce, tourism boards, industrial authorities, county and city elected officials, and local businesses from 11 counties in southeast Georgia came together to promote the river for nature-based tourism and associated economic development opportunities.

With an in-kind contribution from Georgia Institute of Technology, a $5,000 grant from Georgia Southern University, and a local cost share of $500 per county, the group conducted the all important feasibility study that enabled them to proceed with confidence.

With the tagline "Sustaining the River that Sustains Us," the group began installing quality signage, conducting marketing and education programs, and improving boat landings. The renovation of boat landings further enhanced partnerships with the Department of Natural Resources, Georgia Coastal Management Program, Georgia Department of Economic Development, OneGeorgia, Seven Rivers RC&D, and others.

Since its inception, the Altamaha River Partnership has received over $2.6 million in grants, most matched by local funds and resources. These funds made possible many projects and promotions including an annual calendar featuring each of the counties, a canoe trail brochure and map campgrounds, RV parks, and a heritage center along the river. The funds also support events such as the River Rat Run, the Altamaha Wilderness Adventure Race and Altamaha Wilderness Adventure Challenge.

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A Forum for Economic Developers: Regional Strategies
Looking for a place to share regional development ideas? The new "Know Your Region" initiative sponsored by the U.S. Economic Development Administration provides development practitioners with the tools to develop and implement effective regional strategies in the increasingly global economy.

The project offers forums for developers across the country on a range of issues. To access the forums, go to: In addition, you will find new tutorials, resources, and links on the Web site to help you in your daily practice.

Advice on Fund Raising, Infrastructure Development and More
When you're struggling with a project or simply need to brainstorm with rural developerswho understands your concerns, turn to NREDA. The NREDA member directory allows you to search the membership roster for members with experience in:

  • Business expansion/retention
  • Community development
  • Tourism development
  • Key accounts management
  • Fund raising
  • Infrastructure development and more
A phone call or e-mail is all it takes to connect with fellow NREDA members ready and willing to help you.

The New Rural Frontier is Self-Employment
Rural self-employment is making an impact on the rural economy. Rural developers are positioned to aid this trend and make it a positive force in their communities. How? By providing support services such as daycare, small business training, and accounting services to name a few. Read this report by Stephen Goetz for in-depth research into rural self-employment, and how to make the most of it.

Check out this article from the Wall Street Journal for insight into the country's shift toward entrepreneurialism. Clue: Half of all college graduates believe self-employment is more secure than a full time job.

Innovative Education Helps Struggling Entrepreneurs
As schools tap into the entrepreneurial verve with classes and training, an independent program in Boston brings students together with struggling businesses. Founded by college students, the ElmSeed Enterprise Program provides loans and technical support to primarily low income and disadvantaged entrepreneurs.

Why Some Rural Communities Prosper While Others Do Not
Andrew M. Isserman, Edward Feser and Drake Warren penned a paper in May 2007 that examines rural prosperity, something often overlooked and unknown. In fact, more than 300 rural counties and 200 mixed rural counties are more prosperous than the nation as a whole. Each has lower unemployment rates, lower poverty rates, lower school dropout rates, and better housing conditions than the nation. This research seeks to understand why. The diverse theories considered focus on location, the economy, urban-rural linkages, highways and airports, human and social capital, diversity and homogeneity, knowledge and creativity, and climate and topography.

Trends in Local Development and How They Apply to You
Where do you spot the emerging trends that may hold business opportunities for your cooperative and community? For one, check outthe Indiana University Business Research Center's state-by-state go-to databases for rural clusters.

Recent grants to community colleges through the Department of Labor's Employment and Training department indicate the following sectors are growing and in need of skills training: healthcare, aviation, construction, advanced manufacturing, forestry, and biotechnology.

Looking at the power of clustering in rural America where mining, agribusiness, food processing and technology plus forest and wood products predominate, two items of interest include: Unlocking Rural Competitiveness: The Role of Regional Clusters, DA-sponsored report produced by Purdue and Indiana Universities plus the Strategic Development Group.

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Farm Bill Passed by Congress
Congress passed a new Farm Bill (HR 2419) by a large majority: 318-106 in the House and 81-15 in the Senate. While Bush vetoed the legislation, the margins of the votes suggest Congress could override President Bush's veto. The Bush Administration objects to the amount of spending in the $290 billion measure, and especially criticizes the size of farm subsidy provisions.

Good news for broadband supporters: The bill includes a reauthorization of the Rural Utilities Service's (RUS) broadband loan program and a reorganization of RUS procedures to ensure that federal support extends broadband to underserved areas.

Bill Supports Economic Development Administration
Contributed by Henry Fischer, NREDA vice president
The Department of Commerce submitted a legislative proposal in April to reauthorize the Economic Development Administration (EDA). The bill seeks to extend the Public Works and Economic Development Act of 1965 for five years, to the year 2013. Currently, authorization for EDA is set to expire on September 30, 2008.

Since its inception in 1965, the Economic Development Administration has contributed to economic development efforts across the country by providing loans and stimulating private investment. EDA supported economic development efforts through difficult economic times such as the urban manufacturing exodus of the 1960s and 1970s, and loans from the administration helped improve the competitiveness of the steel industry in the late 1970s and early 1980s. The administration supports cities and towns in adapting to today's issues as well, such as helping local communities access international markets.

The administration also supports a network of 375 Economic Development Districts (EDDs) that help guide the economic development planning process for distressed communities, as well as a network of University Centers that assist in connecting economic developers with university resources.

Moving forward, the reauthorization bill includes new provisions designed to give greater flexibility and control to local communities. One of the proposed changes allows Revolving Loan Fund (RLF) operators to shift assets to additional uses other than small businesses, by allowing the sale of assets and accumulation of capital in accordance with a strategic re-use plan. In addition, one of the new provisions of the bill provides dedicated funding for the RLF program. View the full overview of the new bill, as well as the administration's top five reasons for reauthorization, by following this link:

With the nation facing uncertain economic times and the transition of one presidential administration to another, EDA reauthorization would help ensure the stability of economic development programs vital to both rural and urban communities. NREDA members should encourage their Congressional representatives to take up this important bill.

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Effective Grant Writing: From Finding Time to Thinking Big
For NREDA members and development partners, the Grant offers everything you need to know about available grants and how to get them. Online tutorials and Webinars guide you through the grant writing process, while the site's search engines and weekly updates will keep you up to date on funding programs, deadlines, conferences, fundraising tactics, and more.

$10 Million for 2008 REDL&Grants
Source: NRECA Community Catalyst Rural Business-Cooperative Service (RBS) announced the availability of $10 million in Rural Economic Development Grants for 2008. The RBS will honor the applications received in the first and second quarters. Maximum grant awards are $300,000 and maximum combination loan and grant award is $1,040,000. The fourth and final deadline to submit applications to your state Rural Development office is June 30.

Contact your State Rural Development office for application information. To see the list of prior winning projects, amounts of awards and co-op recipients plus the forms necessary for application, a plain English version of the program regulations and other information, visit the REDL&G section of the C&ED Community at

If you have questions, please contact: Jane Marden,, 703-907-5813 and Hamilton Brown,, 703-907-5670.

$39 Million Earmarked for Rural Small Businesses
Source: NRECA Community Catalyst
With the Administration's 2009 zeroing out the popular REDL&G program, it's time for cooperatives and local leaders to consider other funding opportunities. The Rural Business Enterprise Grant (RBEG) funds totaling $39 million in 2008 provide low interest loans for small businesses (fewer than 50 employees and less than $1 million in annual revenue), through revolving loan funds financed by RBEG.

The RBEG program is not available to co-ops, but other organizations, businesses or entrepreneurs are eligible. Local governments and non-profits may apply as well. The guidelines are liberal. For example, last year's awards went to cities, towns, and counties; numerous business incubators, many economic development entities; universities and colleges; port authorities; tourism and arts projects, and even outdoor recreation groups. View the complete list of last year's recipients.

For details, start with your State Rural Development office, which accepts RBEG applications on an ongoing basis. You can also find information in the Financing At-a-Click guide on

$1 million from Readers Digest
The Reader's Digest Foundation has announced it will donate a total of $1 million to nonprofit organizations through a new initiative called "Make it Matter." Deadlines are rolling. For more information, visit

Wal-Mart Community Grant Program
The Wal-Mart Community Grant Program allows local nonprofit organizations, such as schools, youth programs, fire departments, and libraries, to hold fundraisers at their local Wal-Mart or SAM'S CLUB. Through the Matching Grant Program, the store/club can elect to match a portion of the funds raised up to $1,000. Events held off the premises are also eligible for funding when a company associate is actively involved. Additionally, once each Wal-Mart or SAM'S CLUB has met certain criteria in the Matching Grant Program each year, a second source of funding is awarded to the store/club to use in the community. These funds do not require a fundraiser to take place; instead the funds can be awarded directly to deserving organizations. To learn more about the program visit the website or contact the Community Involvement Coordinator at the local Wal-Mart or SAM'S CLUB.

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June 16-18 - Phoenix
CFC Forum 2008

June 16-18 - Las Vegas, NV

June 17-10, 2008 - San Diego, CA
Bio International Convention

July 29-30, 2008 - Nashville, TN
CRN Summit

November 9-11, 2008 - Kansas City, KS
2008 NREDA Conference

November 8-10, 2009 - Destin, FL
2009 NREDA Annual Conference

July 11 - 13, 2010 - Portland, OR
2010 NREDA Annual Conference

The Rural Developer E-Bulletin is published
monthly for members of the
National Rural Economic Developers Association
100 East Grand Avenue, Suite 330 Des Moines, IA 50309
Tele: 515-284-1421 FAX 515-243-2049

NREDA | 1255 SW Prairie Trail Parkway | Ankeny, IA 50023 | Phone: (515) 284-1421 | Fax: (515) 334-1174