Rural Development News
The Rural Electric and Telecommunications Development Center staff provides technical assistance to develop or expand rural businesses, cooperatives or mutually-owned entities. In addition to the technical assistance, staff works to help rural businesses gain access to local, state and federal economic development financing and/or grant programs. Following is a sampling of their work.
- Todd’s Honey Farm - Staff prepared a successful APUC grant application on behalf of Todd Whitney, Richardton, who was interested in growing his beekeeping operation and further processing his raw honey product for retail sale locally. The grant funds were used for construction costs related to a new building, located just outside the city limits of Richardton. The new building provides an operation base for the beekeeping business as well as processing space and a controlled climate storage space for the product.
- Schweitzer Meat Plant - Staff prepared a successful APUC grant application on behalf of Travis Schweitzer, who is interested in building a 2,600 sq. ft. on-farm meat processing plant near Moffit. The plant will offer state inspected slaughtering of beef, buffalo, pork and lamb and employ a minimum of three people. They will also prepare a variety of further processed meat products for retail sale at their facility. The project is underway, as construction began during the fall of 2016.
- Southwest Healthcare Systems – RE&T staff prepared a successful USDA Rural Economic Development loan application for $1 million on behalf of Slope Electric Cooperative to help finance the construction costs of the hospital and clinic. Staff prepared an additional application on behalf of Consolidated Telcom to help finance the costs including a physical therapy department within the new structure. The total cost of construction for the building project, equipment, and renovations to the existing long term care facility has been projected at $34 million.
- Energy Capital Cooperative Child Care – RE&T staff is providing technical assistance to develop employer-assisted child care cooperatives in the communities of Hazen and Beulah. We have networked with the California Center for Cooperative Development to bring cooperative child care experience to the state for this project. After holding several planning meetings, it was agreed to first develop a facility in Hazen and then, using the same committee, move forward with the development of a facility in Beulah. As of December 31, 2016, the business has been incorporated and a temporary board of directors was elected. The project manager has filed for non-profit status. A vacant church, its property, and furnishings have been purchased. The building has the capacity to care for just over 90 children. Staff assisted with developing draft operating cash flow and start up budgets. Work continues to bring this group together for planning. The RE&T staff will document the process and hopes to duplicate the model in other rural areas. Energy Capital Cooperative Child Care is on track to open by the end of the first quarter, 2017.