Weekly Column

Creating welcoming communities

Across rural America, demographics are changing, and community leaders are redefining what makes their small towns successful and vibrant.

Traditionally, a prosperous community is defined as economically viable, with enough housing and employment. Now, prosperous also includes having a welcoming and inclusive community.

Rural energy program benefits South Dakota businesses

Last month, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) awarded more than $380,000 to assist South Dakota businesses in reducing their energy costs and improving energy efficiency. The funding comes from the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP), which provides grants and loans to rural businesses, ag producers, and farmers. REAP funds must be used for the installation of renewable energy systems or to make energy efficiency improvements. 

From the executive director: connecting housing and economic development 

The Center has long focused on strategies to support economic vitality for small communities. Our work to assist small businesses, develop value-added agriculture, and improve policy all focus on creating widespread opportunity for people who live in rural areas.

Increasingly, we see small town housing as an economic development issue. While adequate and affordable housing is a quality of life issue, it also plays an important role in economic development. A lack of local housing can undercut successful business start-up or business growth strategies.

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