USDA awards UMES rural development funds

  • Friday, October 28, 2011

    SELMA, Ala. - (Oct. 28, 2011) - The University of Maryland Eastern Shore is among 10 historically black institutions notified today it will receive $75,000 in rural development funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

    USDA Rural Development Agency Secretary Tom Vilsack said the money is earmarked for business development assistance to entrepreneurs, agribusinesses, cooperatives and communities in economically challenged rural areas.

    Dan Kuennen, UMES' Rural Development Center director, said the money would go to continue support of Maryland Capital Enterprises and the Maryland Hawk Corp., both business incubator projects on Maryland's Eastern Shore that received seed funding from the university to promote economic development.

    USDA Rural Development is providing the assistance through cooperative agreements with UMES and nine other institutions known as 1890 Land-Grant Colleges and Universities.

    "These 1890 institutions have some of the best agricultural science and business education programs in the nation," Vilsack said. "They also have the capacity and expertise to help small and emerging rural businesses develop income-producing projects."

    The USDA said recipients must use the federal funding "to deliver entrepreneurial training, business start-up assistance, renewable energy and energy efficiency programs, website development training, and other programs designed to cultivate new business opportunities and create jobs."

    Delaware State University's Center for Enterprise Development will use its award to support a mobile training facility to increase the capacity of entrepreneurs, small and limited-resource farmers, community leaders and others to develop and use renewable energy.

    "Projects like these will increase employment and income opportunities for rural Americans, which is a key priority for USDA and the Obama Administration," said Dallas Tonsager, Under Secretary of Agriculture.

    President Obama has taken "historic steps to improve the lives of rural Americans, put people back to work and build thriving economies in rural communities," according to a USDA spokesperson, whoa also noted "the President wants the federal government to be the best possible partner for rural businesses and entrepreneurs creating job opportunities and for people who want to live, work, and raise their families in rural communities."

    Through its Rural Development mission area, USDA administers and manages housing, business and community infrastructure and facility programs through a national network of state and local offices.

    Rural Development has an active portfolio of more than $155 billion in affordable 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 America.