The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Thursday announced a $152,492 grant to help all-terrain vehicle (ATV) clubs, businesses and communities spur job creation by promoting and further developing the Coos County’s Ride the Wilds initiative. The grant, made possible by USDA Rural Development, will enable Northern Community Investment Corporation to work with the Metallak ATV Club of Colebrook to help businesses and communities take advantage of recreational visitors using the Ride the Wilds ATV trail network.
Ride the Wilds is the Northeast’s largest interconnected ATV trail system running through remote and scenic sections of Coos County. In addition to the trail network, many communities have opened their streets to ATV traffic, allowing ATV riders using the 1,000 miles of ATV trails access to food, gas and lodging services. The ATV traffic has been critical to the many small businesses in the area, and has even created new small businesses.
"The Ride the Wilds initiative is connecting more than trails, it is connecting visitors to our communities, to our businesses, and to our incredible natural assets," said USDA Rural Development New Hampshire and Vermont State Director Ted Brady. "By investing in New Hampshire’s trails and the organizations that manage and promote them, we are also investing in the rural businesses that our small communities are built around and depend on."
The Ride the Wilds grant was one of 48 Rural Community Development Initiative (RCDI) grants announced Thursday by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. RCDI grants help community-based development organizations, federally recognized Indian tribes and other groups promote economic growth in low-income, rural communities. Recipients are required to obtain matching funds, which increase the value of the grants. USDA does not provide the grants directly to businesses or individuals. Instead, the Agency awards the money to public or non-profit intermediaries. Much of the RCDI funding is regional in nature and underscores USDA’s support of locally-based development strategies.
Another New Hampshire organization, the Northern Forest Center of Concord, received $107,956 to provide workforce development and business training services to environmental tourism-dependent businesses in the Maine Woods region.
"These grants will bring increased economic opportunities to rural residents and communities by strengthening the capacity of regional organizations to help small and emerging businesses," Vilsack said. "They also will help organizations experienced in economic development create more job opportunities for rural residents across the country. "
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.
USDA, through its Rural Development mission area, administers and manages housing, business and community infrastructure programs through a national network of state and local offices. Rural Development has an active portfolio of more than $197 billion in loans and loan guarantees. These programs are designed to improve the economic stability of rural communities, businesses, residents, farmers and ranchers and improve the quality of life in rural areas. For more information on Rural Development visit the Vermont/New Hampshire Rural Development Website (www.rurdev.usda.gov/nh-vtHome.html) or contact USDA RD at (802) 828-6000.