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Explore emerging economic development opportunities at Rural Developers Assembly

Attendees will be introduced to the concept of opportunity development cooperatives and a new approach to rural giving at this year’s Rural Developers Assembly. Hosted annually by the Rural Electric and Telecommunications (RE&T) Development Center, the event attracts economic developers and others interested in opportunities to strengthen our rural communities. It will be held from 1 to 4 p.m. Aug. 2 at Cass County Electric Cooperative in Fargo. A virtual option is available for those who cannot attend in person.

“The Rural Developers Assembly provides an opportunity to learn about methods and programs proven to help maintain and grow our rural communities, plus create sustainable businesses,” says Brian Gion, cooperative development specialist, North Dakota Association of Rural Electric Cooperatives (NDAREC). “If you believe in our rural communities and want them to thrive, this is an event you should attend.”

Tracy McIntyre and Nicole Borner, Montana Cooperative Development Center, will introduce the concept of opportunity development cooperatives, which are proven to revitalize communities, grow local leadership, create sustainable businesses and help solve housing issues. Also known as investment cooperatives, opportunity development cooperatives provide many benefits, including the ability to pool resources, access to capital and the potential for increased community wealth building. Attendees will learn about the work being done by opportunity development cooperatives in rural communities, their current role in the economy and the potential for future community growth.

The assembly also includes a presentation on rural giving. Rebecca Undem, Growing Small Towns, and Patrick Kirby, Do Good Better Consulting, will provide a new approach to rural giving by aligning companies and their people directly to the nonprofits that make their communities great places to live.

To register for the event, visit The registration deadline is Aug. 1.

The RE&T Development Center has been providing federally supported technical assistance to rural areas since 1994. Operating under the umbrella of NDAREC and the Broadband Association of North Dakota, the center has come to be recognized as a major development player in North Dakota. It is networked with 16 electric and 12 telecommunications cooperatives in a statewide effort focused on sustaining and growing rural areas. Local cooperatives provide matching funds and assist the center with rural development activities and community outreach.

NDAREC is the statewide trade association for 16 electric distribution cooperatives and five generation and transmission cooperatives operating in North Dakota. The distribution cooperatives provide electricity to more than 250,000 North Dakotans. NDAREC services include legislative advocacy, line worker safety training and professional development services, cooperative business development, and communication services, including publication of the North Dakota Living magazine.