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Rural Organizations receive $500,000 in USDA grants

September 12, 2014

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Agriculture is awarding more than $500,000 in rural development grants to organizations around North Dakota.

Dickinson State University’s Strom Center, Bowman County Jobs Development and an investment fund that will study the feasibility of a ferry across Lake Sakakawea are among the seven groups to receive grants made possible through the 2014 farm bill, North Dakota’s Congressional delegation announced Friday in news releases.

The grants “will help these communities develop a diverse range of additional businesses and services to benefit citizens,” said Rep. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D.

The Strom Center is receiving $139,204 to conduct a feasibility study on a new innovation lab and provide assistance and training to rural entrepreneurs. An $85,000 grant will go toward the Rural Economic Area Partnership Investment Fund to study the feasibility of a car ferry across Lake Sakakawea between Twin Buttes and Parshall. Bowman County Jobs Development has been awarded $50,000 to conduct a feasibility study for ABLE Inc., an organization supporting individuals with developmental disabilities, to open a retail business in downtown Bowman.

“North Dakota’s success is due in large part to the strength of its rural communities, as small businesses and new entrepreneurs work hard every day to bolster the state’s economy,” Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., said in a news release.

Other organizations to receive grants are Artspace Projects Inc., which will get $90,000 to provide support to Native American entrepreneurs; REAP Investment Fund Inc., which will use a $60,000 grant to establish a childcare cooperative; Prairie West Development Foundation, which will receive $41,849 to purchase and lease equipment to Beach-based Sip N Sew; and the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa, which will receive $99,970 to provide training for rural entrepreneurs.

The funds will service organizations in the state’s economically distressed Rural Economic Area Partnership zones, a designation the 2014 farm bill extended through 2018.

Small business make up 96 percent of all employers in North Dakota and employ almost 62 percent of the private-sector labor force.

“Smart and targeted investments like these funds are what help North Dakota have the lowest unemployment rate in the country,” Heitkamp said. “I will keep pushing to make sure our state’s rural and tribal communities get the support they need as they continue to help our economy grow and thrive.”