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Over $1M granted to Valley agencies

Posted: Monday, Nov 5th, 2007

Photo by Hew Hallock U.S. Rep. John Salazar signs a check for $1 million for a grant to Colorado Housing Enterprises for a revolving loan program to help small businesses in 12 southern Colorado Counties, including five counties in the San Luis Valley. It was one of four grant presentations made this past week by USDA Rural Development Director Mike Bennett, second right, and Salazar. Also shown is Al Gold, to Bennett’s left, executive director of the Colorado Rural Housing Development Corp.

Four groups receive USDA money


ALAMOSA — Four organizations in the San Luis Valley received grants from USDA Rural Development this weekend totaling nearly $1.3 million. Cong. John Salazar, D-Manassa, was on hand to make the presentations.

In San Luis on Friday evening, Salazar and RDA State Director Mike Bennett presented board members of the Rio Culebra Agricultural Cooperative with a $154,222 Small Minority Producer Grant. The 52-member cooperative operates small family farms totaling over 3,000 acres of arable farm and ranch land in Costilla County.

This was the third grant for the cooperative. Last year Rural Development provided funding to the Costilla County Economic Development Council for a business plan on behalf of the Rio Culebra Agricultural Cooperative. The plan will determine how the marketing function will be organized and implemented with three agricultural products currently undergoing study. Prior to that funding, the cooperative received a $117,121 Small Minority Producer Grant from USDA Rural Development to conduct the marketing feasibility study.

“Our mission at Rural Development is to increase economic opportunity and improve the quality of life for rural Coloradoans. The work performed by the Rio Culebra Cooperative is an excellent example of just that,” said Bennett.

Rio Culebra will use the money for the development of new local and regional markets and producers’ capabilities to supply those markets. The cooperative is encouraging production and making practices built on cultural and community traditions and values.

On Saturday morning, in Alamosa, grant awards were made by Salazar and Bennett to San Luis Valley Resource Conservation & Development Council, Colorado Rural Housing Development Corporation, and Colorado Housing Enterprises, LLC.

The San Luis Valley RC&D Council received a $50,000 Rural Business Opportunity Grant to prepare a comprehensive feasibility study to develop a Sustainable Environmental and Economic Development (SEED) Park. The proposal is to develop a model system to create rural jobs integral to the park concept that would provide jobs, housing, manufacturing, wildlife habitat, resource, recycling, and tourist opportunities in the San Luis Valley. The study will determine the best mix of agriculture oriented businesses to locate together advantageously in a sustainable park. The Rural Business Opportunity Grant Program promotes sustainable economic development in rural communities.

Colorado Rural Housing Development Corp. was awarded an $83,179 Technical and Supervisory Assistance Grant to assist with the delivery of housing programs by providing home buyer counseling, credit and financial counseling, delinquency counseling, foreclosure prevention, and home maintenance classes. The grant will target Conejos, Costilla, Huerfano, and Saguache counties.

“This grant has the potential to assist more than 1,000 potential and existing rural homeowners in these areas,” said Bennett. The Technical and Supervisory Assistance Grant Program helps fund homeownership and financial counseling programs to reduce the potential for delinquency by USDA Rural Development loan applicants and outreach to infonn low-income rural residents about the availability of housing assistance.

Colorado Housing Enterprises was awarded a $1,000,000 Intermediary Relending Loan. The funding will help small businesses revitalize declining commercial and industrial areas, develop sites for expansion of existing commercial and industrial uses, and allow microenterprises and small businesses to expand. Through this loan, an estimated 35 new jobs will be created for people with low incomes.

Most of the IRP loans will be $100,000 or less. Under the IRP program, loans are provided to local organizations (intermediaries) for the establishment of revolving loan funds. These revolving loan funds are used to assist with financing business and economic development activity to create or retain jobs in disadvantaged and remote communities. This funding will be used in Alamosa, Baca, Bent, Conejos, Costilla, Crowley, Huerfano, Las Animas, Otero, Prowers, Rio Grande, and Saguache counties.

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