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USDA Announces Economic Development Support for Rural Cooperatives

Jill Rees
Release Date

USDA Rural Development State Director Vicki Walker today announced the selection of Community And Shelter Assistance Corporation (CASA of Oregon) to receive a $147,200 grant to assist residents of rural manufactured housing parks who have or are seeking to purchase, operate and manage their communities as nonprofit cooperatives.

“Cooperatives are the ultimate economic self-help tool,” Walker said. “The cooperative structure can help member-owners directly address their needs and take charge of their future.”

Through the effort, CASA of Oregon will provide technical assistance and training in five resident-owned manufactured housing communities to ensure their continued success. The targeted communities are located in Lane, Yamhill, Deschutes, Morrow and Curry Counties.

By instituting the cooperative structure for management, residents of these communities will become empowered to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of site management, address facility upgrade needs, preserve and enhance access to safe, affordable housing, and help stabilize the overall community.

The USDA grant will leverage $49,750 in funding from CASA of Oregon and expertise and resources through the Northwest Cooperative Development Center and the Nonprofit Association of Oregon.

Funding will be provided through USDA’s Rural Cooperative Development Grant (RCDG) program. With RCDG, USDA supports nonprofit groups and higher education institutions that create and operate centers to help establish, expand or operate rural businesses, especially cooperatives and mutually owned businesses. These competitively awarded grants may be used to conduct feasibility studies, create and implement business plans, and help businesses develop new markets for their products and services.  Since fiscal year 2009, the RCDG program has awarded 166 grants for approximately $33 million and has helped nearly 3,000 businesses.

The award to CASA of Oregon is part of a nationwide announcement of 34 grants to help rural cooperatives strengthen their capacity to serve rural citizens and communities, help small businesses expand, and develop new market opportunities for rural farmers and ranchers. In all, USDA announced more than $6 million in grants for today’s list of recipients.  Funding for each recipient is contingent upon the recipient meeting the terms of the grant agreement.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack noted that today’s announcement is another reminder of the importance of USDA programs for rural America.  He said a comprehensive new Food, Farm and Jobs Bill would further expand the rural economy and added that’s just one reason why Congress must get a comprehensive Food, Farm and Jobs Bill done as soon as possible.

President Obama’s plan for rural America has brought about historic investment and resulted in stronger rural communities. Under the President’s leadership, these investments in housing, community facilities, businesses and infrastructure have empowered rural America to continue leading the way – strengthening America’s economy, small towns and rural communities. USDA’s investments in rural communities support the rural way of life that stands as the backbone of our American values.