I am pleased to announce that at our recent National Association of Community Development Extension Professionals (NACDEP) Conference in Minneapolis, MACDEP member Rae Lynn Hays was selected as the National recipient of the NACDEP Excellence in Community Development Work Award for her work in community programming in conflict management, mediation, and facilitation. Congratulations, Rae Lynn!
Rural Counties Gain Jobs
Rural counties began adding jobs in February and, as a result, the unemployment rates dipped in rural America. Unemployment in rural counties was still high in February, at 11.1%, far above the rural rate of 4.5% in October 2007. But the rate was down slightly from the 11.2% rate in January. The map below shows the change in the number of jobs in rural counties from January to February 2010. Red counties lost jobs; green counties gained jobs. 36% of rural counties gained jobs in February. As the chart below shows, unemployment rates are still higher in rural counties than in urban or exurban counties. But rates in all three turned in February.
Presidential Report on Strengthening Rural Economy
This report surveys the current state of rural America and describes the Obama Administration’s policies for strengthening the rural economy. Many of these policies are already being implemented through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. But further work remains to ensure the prosperity and vitality of rural America. According to this report, the overall share of the U.S. population living in rural counties also has been steadily declining over time, with high-density rural counties experiencing particularly sharp declines (see figure below).
Ten Tips for Implementing an Economic Gardening Project
To sustain an economic gardening program, a community must assemble its key players, develop a common understanding of the process and goals, be committed for the long haul, and share a passion for doing things differently. Here are ten suggestions to get you started in the process.
Google Places: Google’s Local Business Center Gets an Upgrade
Google’s Local Business Center has been renamed “Google Places.” The re-branding effort is accompanied by a handful of new features designed to help local business owners gain an edge in search engine marketing. The name change was made to better tie the business owner dashboard with Place Pages, the Yelp-like local business landing pages that Google launched about six months ago.
The Rural West Lags In Census Returns
The rural West is dawdling in returning this year's U.S. Census, according to the agency's numbers. In the accompanying map from the Daily Yonder you'll see a big red swath running down the Rockies. Red counties mean a 17 to 40 percent return rate. The graph depicts nationwide census return levels.
2010 Census Participation Rates in Montana Counties
Per Montana’s Census and Economic Information Center (CEIC) website, 72% of households nationwide have participated in the 2010 Census by mail -- the same rate achieved in Census 2000. Montana totals are 67%, versus 70% in 2000. The map below shows a breakdown of participation rates by county.
Montana County Population Estimates
On March 23, 2010, the U.S. Census Bureau released the 2009 County Montana County Population Estimates. Overall, Montana’s population rose 72,799 in 9 years and 3 months, for an increase of 8.1% in Montana’s total population from 2000 to 2009. Below is a map with an overview of county population.
Participate in Childcare Survey for Small Businesses
Montana KIDS COUNT is investigating how small businesses deal with absenteeism and loss of productivity due to employees having child-care related problems. The survey is being conducted by the Bureau of Business and Economic Research at The University of Montana.
Council Of Development Finance Agencies: 2010 Annual Development Finance Summit
May 10th – 13th, 8:00 AM, Portland, Oregon. The program for CDFA's 2010 Annual Development Finance Summit in Portland, Oregon is now available. This year's Summit will explore dozens of development finance topics, best practices, industry trends through three different tracks: Financing Continuum, Sustainable Financing Strategies, and Recommended Practices.
Are You “Shovel Ready” To Do Business With The Government, The State, And With Different Municipalities?
May 11th, St. Regis, Community Center (Mineral County).
May 12th, Thompson Falls, Senior Citizens Center (Sanders County).
May 13th, Ronan, Lake County Community Development Center(Lake County).
All sessions go from 9:00 AM – 4:00 PM.
Learn about Federal assistance for rural areas of Montana, Human Resource Management Services and the new programs and resources SBA has available. These include the Disadvantage Business Enterprise Program, the Montana Procurement Technical Assistance Center and the registration process for doing business with government.
21st Annual John Ruffatto Business Plan Competition
May 13th, Missoula, Gallagher Business Building, UM Campus. This competition celebrates entrepreneurship, recognizes success, and inspires future business endeavors. There will be thousands in prizes and 40 world-class judges.
NADC Economic Development & Procurement Conference
May 19th – 20th, 8:00 AM, Billings, Holiday Inn Grand. This Native American Development Corporation Conference will provide an opportunity for conference attendees to learn how to form strategic partnerships, obtain government contracts and develop financial resources. Federal and State leaders will be available for consultation with Tribal Leaders and Native Owned Small Businesses.
44th Pacific Northwest Regional Economic Conference “Opportunities and Challenges in the Pacific Northwest Hinterlands”
May 20th – 21st, 5:00 PM, Missoula, Holiday Inn-Parkside. Hosted by the Bureau of Business and Economic Research The University of Montana, join economists, analysts, students and others to discuss energy, tourism, demographics, health care, resource use and linkages with the urban core of the Pacific Northwest. Register today.
Sustainable Practices In Action Panel Discussion
May 27th, 5:30 PM, Missoula, Stensrud Building Event Center. Each year the Missoula Sustainable Business Council presents a series of awards to recognize and appreciate outstanding contributions to the concept of sustainable practices and the resulting positive effect on the quality of life in Missoula and Western Montana.Winners must have made progress in all three aspects of sustainability: people, planet and profit.
SBA Awards Ceremony Honoring Montana’s Top Small Businesses & Advocates
June 2nd, 12:00 PM, Gallatin Gateway, Gallatin Gateway Inn. The U.S. Small Business Administration’s (SBA) annual Small Business Week Awards Ceremony will honor small business owners and advocate champions from across the state in various categories for their achievements and contributions to Montana’s economy.
How You Build It: Creating Cutting-Edge Developments
In today's economy, communities need to leverage their assets to be competitive and grow their local economy. Often overlooked or abandoned, the key to igniting the local economy may already exist in your community. At the 2010 How You Build It conference, we will examine the resources communities already have to jump start new developments and growth. Register here.
USDA Energy Grants Deadlines Approaching
USDA Rural Development officially announced the application deadline for the Renewable Energy for America Program (REAP). This announcement covers both grant and loan guarantee applications for Renewable Energy System (RES) and Energy Efficiency Improvement (EEI) projects. The applications deadline for the Feasibility Study Grants and the Energy Audit Assistance Grants has yet to be announced. The application deadline is 4:30 local time on June 30, 2010. Additional information on this program is available at any Rural Development office or by visiting the following links for Business and Cooperative Programs and Farm Energy.
Rural Business Grants Available
USDA Rural Development is accepting applications for our Rural Business Opportunity Grant (RBOG) program. Funding may be used for economic planning, technical assistance, and training for rural communities, entrepreneurs, or economic development officials. Applications are due June 28, 2010.
Ten New Grant Opportunities have been added to the MSU Extension Website
Community Development “In the News”
Relax, Smart Growth is Your Friend
Roger K. Lewis of The Washington Post paints a reassuring picture for suburban homeowners frightened of smart growth. Home values will go up, and you'll be able to walk to get a cup of coffee, says Lewis. Washington Post; April 25
Community Design for Public Health
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are getting in the urban design racket with a new guide to community design that focuses on how urban form can affect public health. LAND; April 23
Kotkin Ranks Best Cities for New Jobs
In a survey developed by Pepperdine's School of Public Policy for New Geography, Joel Kotkin says the results are depressing. Only 13 metro areas saw any job growth in the last year. New Geography; April 22
Rethinking Rural Development
Silos and smokestacks are the way of the past for rural area development, according to economist Mark Drabenstott who offers a new idea for bringing economic activity to rural places. Daily Yonder; April 14
The One-Two Punch of Job Losses and Falling Home Values
Housing devaluation and job loss are the two major problems affecting America's urban areas. But as this article from Governing explains, those two problems are playing out in drastically different ways from metro to metro. Governing; April 22
Town Hall Meetings Find New Home, Broader Audience Online
E-town hall meetings offer a cost-effective alternative that lets residents participate from the comfort of their own homes. Government Technology; April 22
Radical Growth Management
Who should pay for growth? In Bolinas California, newcomers pay a steep entrance fee. Fair or not, it's a good anecdote to share among planners and budget analysts. New York Times; April 15
EPA Report: Cities Growing, Suburbs Slowing
Urban redevelopment has experienced significant growth over the past five years, while residential permits are on the wane. Builder Magazine; April 10
Do We Care Less? Polls Show Decline in Concern for the Environment
As we approach the 40th anniversary of the original Earth Day, two new polls, as well as one recent report, raise important alarms about our attitudes toward nature. New West; April 9
The Business of Climate Change
If Congress passes climate change legislation, someone must manufacture and sell products and services to help companies meet lowered carbon emissions targets. New West; April 8
Eric Giler wants to untangle our wired lives with cable-free electric power. He covers what this sci-fi tech offers, and demos MIT's breakthrough version, WiTricity. MATR; April 7
Planner for Montana City Takes Post with Smart Growth
Roger Millar, director of the Missoula City-County Office of Planning and Grants, will leave his post with the Montana agency to become director for land use and transportation policy for Smart Growth America. Missoulian; April 28
Montana Dietary Managers Hear Rewards, Challenges of Buying Local
At a meeting last week of Montana Dietary Managers, Jessica Williams, the food and nutritional services manager at Livingston HealthCare, talked about the challenges of buying locally grown and produced food, and the rewards of doing so. Great Falls Tribune; April 27
Program Brings Local Food to Montana's Institutions
Coined Farm to Institution, it's a model the state of Montana would like to see more of in institutions such as hospitals, nursing homes, schools and correctional facilities. Great Falls Tribune; April 27
Transmission Line, Substation Divide Montana Residents
NorthWestern Energy's Mountain States Transmission Intertie project from Townsend to Idaho will cost $1 billion to build, including a $127-million substation on 52 acres in Townsend, and has ignited a debate on Montana's role in the nation's energy grid. Montana Standard; April 26
Wind Farm Developers Eye Montana School Trust Land
The state Department of Natural Resources and Conservation said Wednesday it would consider leasing almost 27,000 acres of school trust land in northcentral Montana to private developers interested in using the property as part of larger commercial wind farms. Billings Gazette; April 22
Scientists, Loggers Look to Generate Energy, Fertilizer in Columbia Falls
The loggers have lots of leftover wood chips. The science geeks have that mechanical cow. Together, with a little help from the sun, they think they can generate power, heat, steam and the finest organic fertilizer on the market. Missoulian; April 19
Montana County Gives Natural-Gas Plant Needed Permit
Southern Montana Electric Generation & Transmission got a needed permit for construction of its natural-gas power plant from Cascade County, clearing another hurdle for the project. Great Falls Tribune; April 17
Montana's Winds Bring Good News, Change
The day an agreement was inked by a wind-energy developer and the developer of a transmission project, wind gusts up to 45 mph blew through the city of Great Falls. Great Falls Tribune; April 14
3,000 Megawatts of Renewable Energy Planned for Montana
Grasslands Renewable Energy introduces 'smart grid' transmission concept aggregating diverse renewable energy at a competitive price. PR Newswire; April 9
High-Tech Windmill Spins Silently in Downtown Laurel
It's a vertical axis wind turbine that powers an electric generator and provides enough electricity to power an average household. Laurel Outlook; April 7
Experts Share Their Predictions at Montana Economic Summit
At the Burton K. Wheeler Center's conference in Bozeman Monday on Montana's economic future, attendees heard from many experts who touted more help for struggling families and more attention focused on creating high-tech, high-paying jobs. Great Falls Tribune; April 6