October is National Co-op Month in the United States, and this year’s theme is “Cooperatives Build”. All month long, the United States Department of Agriculture will be highlighting cooperatives around the country to show the positive impact they have on communities and outreach. Rural Business-Cooperative Service Administrator Sam Rikkers recognized the work of Keystone Development Center at the Tuscarora Organic Growers Cooperative in Hustontown, Pennsylvania.
“Keystone Development Center’s support of cooperatives is vital to maintaining a vibrant economy in southern Pennsylvania,” Rikkers said. “The co-op model is great for rural communities like Hustontown, because income generated by a cooperative is often re-invested in the community.”
The United States Department of Agriculture is awarding grant funding to Keystone Development Center Incorporated, based out of Lancaster County. This funding comes from the Rural Development agency of the USDA.
The funding for Keystone Development Center comes in the form of a $200,000 Rural Cooperative Development Grant. These funds will be used to provide technical assistance to new and developing cooperatives, including a composting cooperative, shell-fish growers, and a community investment cooperative that will aggregate capital for investment in renewable energy projects.
“Rural Development is proud to recognize the work of Keystone Development Center here at the Tuscarora Organic Growers Co-op,” said Rural Development State Director Tom Williams. “Co-ops help to promote the best agricultural practices, spur economic growth, and provide essential services to their members and the community at large. There is no better time to bring attention to these benefits than now in October, during National Co-op Month.”
Cooperatives are an essential part of the U.S. economy, especially in rural communities and areas. In addition to helping farmers and ranchers market their products and acquire farm supplies, cooperatives help meet many other needs, such as supplying electricity, telecommunications, credit and financial services, housing, food, hardware and building supplies, among other services.
USDA Rural Development offers numerous business programs to qualified applicants, including Rural Business Enterprise Grants, Rural Energy for America Grants, and Business & Industry Loan Guarantees. For a full list of Rural Development programs, visit the website at http://www.rd.usda.gov/programs-services.
Last year, Rural Development funded over $1 billion in federal loan and grant money for 5,728 projects in rural Pennsylvania. These projects include rural business opportunities, single and multi-family housing programs, community facilities, and water and environmental programs. To learn more about Rural Development and how they could possibly affect change in your area, visit the website at www.rd.usda.gov/pa.
President Obama’s historic investments in rural America have made our rural communities stronger. Under his leadership, 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.