A dream was realized in 1990 when Nowell “Shorty” Hofer began construction on Shorty’s Locker and retail store on the edge of Mitchell. When Shorty passed away from cancer in 2021, he left a hole in the community and an uncertain future for the local meat locker.
Devin and Linda Rattazzi had close connections in Mitchell. When they heard of Shorty’s passing, they knew how his loss would affect the community. Linda grew up in Mitchell but left in 1997 for Nevada and longed for the chance to move back close to family. Devin butchered meat at a locker and for a grocery store chain in Nevada. He had a bucket list item left to fulfill.
He checked off that bucket list item when they purchased Shorty’s earlier this year. Through the help of Planning and Development District III and USDA Rural Development’s Meat and Poultry Intermediary Lending Program (MPILP), the business once again opened its doors for local farmers and ranchers to process beef, pork, lamb and goats. The owners also are working quickly to add three more staff to help with South Dakota’s hunting season so they can process wild game. With South Dakota’s pheasant season opening later in October, the business opened at the perfect time.
“It’s awesome to bring this service back to Mitchell,” said Linda. “We love the community and I’ve been able to reconnect with so many people.” Linda joked that Devin got his bucket list item, and she got her family back. She’s grateful for their banker connecting the couple to Planning and Development District III.
Lori Cowman and Theresa Kokesh worked closely with the Rattazzis and their local bank. Devin and Linda qualified for a $170,000 low interest loan from District III using the MPILP funds.
“The Rattazzi’s bank put them in touch with us,” said Lori. “We work hard to set interest rates low and partner with our local lenders. We want these rural businesses to success and stay in our rural communities.”
Lori said Rural Development’s programs like MPILP help make District III’s programs stronger. “Our partnership directly benefits rural communities and the businesses that keep local dollars local. We’re able to make USDA funds go further because we’ve developed such strong connections with businesses and lenders.”
“The relationship with our economic development partners helps our investments like the Meat and Poultry Intermediary Lending Program reach many more businesses,” said Clark Guthmiller, Rural Development Loan Specialist. “They’re really an extension of our work because they can identify borrowers, assist with the application, and make sure the business is viable and credit worthy. Rural Development still reviews the applications, but much of the work has already been completed by our partners.”
Clark said when new funds are invested by Rural Development, the initial applications receive a bit more attention. “We verify environmental and historic concerns are addressed,” said Clark. “For example, if the business will be in a historic building, we want to be certain lead paint, asbestos, or old storage tanks have been taken care of.” He added that Rural Development and the state of South Dakota make sure the historic aspects of the building aren’t negatively affected by the new business.
Both Linda and Lori encourage other businesses to reach out to District III and Rural Development to explore programs that might help start, expand or update rural opportunities across South Dakota.
“Go for it! USDA and District III were wonderful to work with,” said Linda. “We’re thrilled to be able to offer a fresh cut on locally raised meat and to do it in a great community like Mitchell.”
Rural Development offers many programs for communities, businesses and homeowners. To learn more about MPILP and other programs, visit RD.USDA.Gov/SD.
Program: Meat and Poultry Intermediary Lending Program (MLILP)*
Grant Recipient: Planning and Development District III
Grant Amount: $2.1 million
Ultimate Recipient: Rattazzi Locker, Retail and Smokehouse
Ultimate Recipient Loan Amount: $170,000