USDA program helps “R.I.S.E.” economic clusters in rural areas

Published: Jun. 23, 2021 at 6:35 PM CDT
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CHEYENNE, Wyo. (Wyoming News Now) - As federal money pours in to help infrastructure, a grant program ensures rural areas get the help they need.

The Wyoming Rural Development is an agency within the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). This state agency contains programs that focus on 5 main business areas; business, loan guarantees, revolving loan funds, and rural development. Additionally, under this umbrella, they have 38 various programs combined.

“You can literally build a community from the ground up with all the different programs the USDA has,” said Scott Sutherland, Director for the Wyoming Business Programs, Rural Development — USDA

The newest grant program is called the Rural Innovation Stronger Economy or “RISE.”

This program focuses on low-income rural communities that earn 80% of Wyoming’s median income and helps establish economic clusters through businesses or “for profit” companies. The purpose is to attract an expert workforce and take advantage of an area’s supplies or materials.

For example, Gillette has an economy that focuses on coal. They have machine shops, rental entities, environmental firms, state-integrated test centers, research and development component business incubators.

“Primarily a group of companies, for profit companies, that attract the same type of workforce can take advantage the expertise of the supplies of the materials of the other companies. Creating a fairly independent cluster of economic activity,” said Sutherland

The program is federally financed and helps to raise the total wage rate of lower-income rural areas. Reducing the economic wage disparity between urban and rural communities.

RISE also helps identify what the economic clusters are, what is needed to help complete that cluster, help establish it, and move on to a different community.

" We really are a friendly agency that works to help get things done that’s the crux. We help applicants as much as we can, you know it’s a small state, we all work well together with other federal and state entities and we really do take customer service seriously.”

Varying grant and loan programs are available through the USDA to further several areas of business development. More information can be found here.

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