Celebrate the Right Stuff at NREDA Conference
There's still time to join NREDA in "Celebrating What's Right with Rural America". The theme of the 20th Anniversary NREDA Conference brings members together on November 9-11 in Kansas City for learning, inspiration and sharing on key issues for rural developers.
Additional breakout sessions focus on angel investing, rural technology, rail-served economic development and logistics opportunities, and more. A special event of "Celebrating What's Right with Rural America," conference attendees are invited on a tour of the local bioscience community, sponsored by KansasBio . KansasBio works with private and public sector leaders to attract and retain bioscience companies and promote bioscience clusters within the state.
- Transforming Rural America Through Renewable Energy
Michael Peck, founder of the MAPA Group, says green collar jobs are growing at a rate of five percent annually. Hot areas include green building technology, global carbon trading, wind industry manufacturing and solar power equipment. In his keynote conference kickoff, Peck shares how rural areas can embrace the green economy and benefit.
- Entrepreneurs and Economic Competitiveness
Don Macke of the RUPRI Center shares why entrepreneurship works for rural communities and how certain communities are nurturing a healthy entrepreneurial climate.
- The Importance of Communications in Sustaining Growth
Effective communications strategies can make or break a potential economic development deal. Learn how to manage communications across the multiple organizations, governments and key players involved in developing an important project.
For complete details, download the conference brochure, or visit www.nreda.org. Remember to register online for a $20 discount, plus early bird discounts available for members who register by October 10, 2008!
For hotel reservations, call the Hilton President, 816-221-9490, or visit www.presidentkansascity.hilton.com. Please refer to the group name (NREDA) to receive the special group rate of $149/single or double. **Special group rate available until October 13, 2008.
ED 411 is coming: Online networking and mentoring for members
You asked for it, you got it: At the upcoming Annual Conference, NREDA will unveil a new service that helps you take advantage of NREDA's year-round networking potential.
Driven from the "members only" section on the NREDA website, the ED 411 program is a web-driven search engine that lets you search most effectively for ED professionals with specific experience or skills.
"The majority of NREDA members have expressed that networking is the primary benefit of NREDA membership," said Rick Shortell, NREDA vice president.
Shortell pointed out that dialogue among members with similar projects or experiences facilitates strategic problem solving and often prevents 'reinventing the wheel.' It's also a useful tool for members who are new to rural development.
ED 411 offers other benefits as well: Mentoring services for new members in their first year, and mentoring for others members who would appreciate the support of a veteran developer and NREDA peer.
If you can't make the NREDA Annual Conference in November, please watch for more information in Rural Developer, and watch for the ED 411 button on the Web site www.nreda.org this fall.
MEMBER - TO - MEMBERAre you LinkedIn? Join NREDA friends online
NREDA President Pat Merritt invites members to join the NREDA group on LinkedIn. Joining allows you to contact other NREDA members on LinkedIn. Merritt said the goal of this group is to help members:
To join, visit LinkedIn and follow the online instructions.
- Reach other members of NREDA.
- Accelerate careers/business through referrals from group members.
- Enhance familiarity within the group by viewing rich professional profiles from fellow NREDA group members.
A Most Livable City: St. Cloud, Minnesota
NREDA Vice President Henry Fischer shares his community's recent international designation as second most livable city of its size in the world, and the first among peer communities in the U.S. Among other achievements, St. Cloud, Minnesota, earned honors based on environmental and landscape management, heritage management and forward planning.
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Make the most of rural young professionals
Douglas, Georgia is making sure it makes the most of its young working professionals. Through the Douglas-Coffee County Chamber of Commerce the community kicked off a Young Professionals Network that combines youthful energy and leadership for the betterment of the region.
Not that innovation from this rural community comes as a surprise. Chamber Director JoAnne Lewis is the 2007 recipient of the NREDA Rural Economic Development Leadership Award.
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NREDA reaches out to rural telecoms
The Foundation for Rural Service (FRS) wants more rural telecoms to get involved in economic development. To highlight the need for telecom leadership at the local level, FRS asked NREDA to produce a white paper that highlights the advantages to telecoms while emphasizing the long-term positive impact on their rural communities.
Among the findings:
"Growth of the community means growth for the rural local exchange carrier (RLEC). The RLEC understands how new telecommunications products, services and offerings impact a community's success. New and innovative community growth opportunities capitalize on the RLEC's existing and potential new ventures, ultimately impacting the RLEC's financial success, too." Written by NREDA members Dorene Benthin and Dana Baker of GVNW Consulting, with assistance from NREDA President Pat Merritt, the group will present the paper at the National Telephone Cooperative Association (NTCA) Conference this fall. In addition to encouraging telecom leadership, Baker said he hopes the findings "will strengthen relationships between telecoms, electric cooperatives and NREDA. In addition, building the entrepreneur spirit with the youth in our rural communities will help create opportunities for them to stay in the rural area."
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Useful links you should know about
The NREDA Web site offers direct links to valuable economic development resources you need to know about. Take a look:
Bookmark these Related Links via your NREDA Web site. If you know of other useful links, please forward the info to Lynn Harkin, email@example.com
"Gazelle" firms prefer rural areas
David Birch first popularized the term "gazelle firms", referring to the fast growing firms that can often transform a community and region. A recent study by the Small Business Administration (SBA) has expanded his work on sales growth to include expanding employment in determining which firms are the most desirable.
Their key finding: "High-impact firms are relatively old, rare and contribute to the majority of overall economic growth. On average they are 25 years old, they represent between two and three percent of all firms, and they account for almost all of the private sector employment and revenue growth in the economy."
According to the study, 23 percent of all of the high impact firms in the country are located in rural areas. Read a report summary, or for the complete study, visit High-Impact Firms: Gazelles Revisited.
Entrepreneurship: Where Theory and Practice Meet
Practitioners and researchers will discuss research and share best practices for creating vibrant economies during a two-day conference at the McQuinn Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership at the University of Missouri. The conference will have a special focus on rural entrepreneurship and will highlight the Appalachian Regional Commission's 10-year Entrepreneurship Initiative and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation's Entrepreneurship Development Systems in Rural America Program. For more information on the conference, visit the McQuinn Center.
HomeTown YouthForce: Engaging the Entrepreneurial Generation
If your rural community wants to encourage youth entrepreneurship and slow the tide of outmigration, here's a resource for you: The RUPRI Center for Rural Entrepreneurship Center and the Heartland Center for Leadership Development will present "HomeTown YouthForce: Engaging the Entrepreneurial Generation," a three-day academy that will focus on how to engage entrepreneurial youth in community building while they are growing up in their hometowns. It will also help communities learn ways to attract young adults back to their hometowns (or other small towns) after they have moved away for college or career development.
The academy takes place November 18-20 in Nebraska City, NE. For more details, visit the Heartland Center.
SBA Broadens Office of Business and Community Initiatives
U.S. Small Business Administration is re-launching one of its primary entrepreneurial training divisions to create a one-stop shop for information on how to start, maintain or grow a small business, including an emphasis on financial literacy.
The Office of Entrepreneurship Education (OEE) will be a division of the Office of Entrepreneurial Development, which provides small business training, counseling and access to resources. The office will place special emphasis on the agency's youth entrepreneurship activities to encourage the next generation of entrepreneurs.
The new office complements SBA's efforts to deliver its services to underserved markets such as rural communities, and includes initiatives designed to generate jobs and business growth in these areas. Rural Lender Advantage, a loan program that simplifies SBA lending for smaller and rural lenders, was rolled out in 10 states last year by SBA's Office of Capital Access and will be available nationwide this fall.
e-Commerce curriculum aids rural communities
Connecting rural communities to the world via Internet is increasingly essential for community vitality, but as rural developers know, this task can be challenging. To address these challenges the Southern Rural Development Center (SRDC) released its curriculum Connecting Rural Communities. The curriculum is designed to help rural communities explore the feasibility and benefit of adopting broadband. The project is part of the National E-Commerce Extension Initiative, funded in part by the Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service (CSREES)/USDA. Access Connecting Rural Communities and other e-Commerce related materials at SRDC
Source: Southern Rural Development Center.
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Hobnob etiquette: NREDA Guide to Lobbying
Lobbying local, state and federal officials is critical to protecting and enhancing rural economic development initiatives, but what's the best method to go about it? The NREDA Guide to Lobbying Your Legislators helps you navigate the lobbying process and present your issues most effectively. To make the most of political face time, download the free Guide to Lobbying Your Legislators.
Good news for REDL&G program
NREDA member Jane Marden reports the following news on REDL&G funding:
The Senate Appropriations Committee recently passed its version of the 2009 Agriculture Appropriations Bill that includes the loan portion of REDL&G funded at $33 million. Either the existing Congress or November-elected members can fund the program.For additional REDL&G details, please contact Jane Marden, firstname.lastname@example.org, 703-907-5813.
In spite of the proposed elimination of the program in the Bush Administration's 2009 budget, the Capitol Hill activity suggests that it would be wise for you to contact your State Rural Development office and send in your REDL&G applications for the first quarter by Sep. 30.
USDA awards 40 percent the funds during the first quarter each year and reconsiders all eligible application that do not receive first quarter awards during the next three quarters. NREDA members who work for electric cooperatives may visit the REDL&G section on Cooperative.com for complete application forms, a state by state listing of all past recipients from 1989 through 2008 and a step-by-step guide to the most competitive application.
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GRANTS & FUNDING
USDA grants support small business innovation
USDA's 2009 Small Business Innovations Research (SBIR) Program will award grants up to $80,000 for small businesses and agriculture enterprises that promote innovation in the private sector.
Grant guidelines state "the program's primary goal is to provide incentive and opportunity for small business firms to convert USDA-sponsored research to technological innovation in the private sector. All proposed research should have some potential commercial outcome."
The two divisions under consideration are:
Applicants must be for-profit and employ fewer than 500 workers. Applications are due electronically on www.grants.gov by September 4.
- Agriculture - Funding for project innovations in areas such as: forest resources; aquaculture; biofuels and bio-based products; animal waste management; air water and soil protection; etc. Innovations must have potential for broad use and involve: development of new technologies; refinement of existing technologies; and/or new applications for existing technologies.
- Alternative energy - Funding for development of new energy crops and improved methods using: ethanol and biodiesel production; hydrogen and other fuel gas production from agricultural waste; and energy efficiency in agricultural production and in rural communities.
Source: NRECA Community Catalyst.
Low interest loans for small businesses via RBEG
The Rural Business Enterprise Grant (RBEG) provides 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. Available funds: $39 million.
The RBEG program is not available to co-ops, however 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, economic development entities, universities and colleges, port authorities, tourism and arts projects, and even outdoor recreation groups. View the list of last year's recipients.
For details, start with your State Rural Development offices, which accept RBEG applications on an ongoing basis. NREDA members who work for electric cooperatives can also find information in the Financing At-a-Click guide at www.cooperative.com. www.cooperative.com
Source: NRECA Community Catalyst.
Weatherization helps low-income families
Helping rural residents stay afloat during rough economic times is critical to maintaining healthy local economies. For that reason, NREDA' electric cooperative members will be interested in DOE's Weatherization Assistance Program . DOE's program helps low income households reduce energy use through insulation, sealing leaks and a host of other weatherization technologies. DOE grants are administered to local agencies, usually community nonprofits, via state energy offices. Contact your state energy office to locate the weatherization network members in your cooperative service area.
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