October 25, 2018

Merkley, Wyden Announce Grants for Rural Business Development

PORTLAND, OR – Oregon’s U.S. Senators Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden today announced nearly $560,000 in U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Business Development grants were awarded to projects across Oregon.

“Oregon can’t be successful if we don’t have good jobs and vibrant communities in rural parts of the state,” said Merkley, the top Democrat on the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture and Rural Development. “Small businesses are the anchor of our rural economies, and the benefits of these grants stretch to every corner of the state. That’s why I fought to increase funding for rural business development grants in the 2019 budget. I will continue to protect the programs that are vital to Oregon’s rural economic opportunity.”

“Our rural economies thrive when small businesses thrive. By helping emerging businesses grow, that will mean more jobs and opportunity for Oregonians across the state,” Wyden said. “This marks another important step in my efforts to secure the future of Oregon’s rural economies, and together with Senator Merkley, I won’t stop here.”

USDA rural business development grants are awarded through a competitive program designed to support the growth or expansion of small and emerging private businesses—with 50 or fewer employees and less than $1 million in gross revenue—in rural areas. Merkley in the fiscal year 2019 spending bill successfully protected funding for a number of USDA’s Rural Development programs, including securing a $6 million increase for rural business development grants.

Grant winners in Oregon include:

Wisdom of the Elders, Inc., Portland: $100,000 to develop an agriculture business incubator to support at least six Native American businesses in rural Marion County. Meyer Memorial Trust is contributing $80,000 to the project, and Wisdom of the Elders is contributing $20,000 to the $200,000 project.

The Klamath Tribes, Chiloquin: $97,876 to establish the Klamath Tribal Microenterprise Development Project, which will provide technical assistance, networking, and mentorship to help tribal entrepreneurs develop new businesses. The Klamath Tribes has secured $35,000 to contribute to the $132,876 project.

Ecotrust, Portland: $90,000 to engage with, train, and provide comprehensive support to rural fishing businesses in Oregon and other northwestern states. Ecotrust is contributing $32,478 to the $122,478 project.

Lake County Resources Initiative, Lakeview:$56,034 to conduct structural and energy consumption audits for businesses in rural Lake County, determining if solar panels, ground source heat, or weatherization improvements would decrease the power and heating costs for businesses. The organization is contributing $34,330 to the $90,364 project.

Rural Development Initiatives, Inc., Eugene: $50,000 to work alongside the community of Warm Springs, local leaders, tribal elders, businesses, and entrepreneurs to establish a business incubator and a downtown master plan for Warm Springs. The organization will contribute $35,000 to the $85,000 project.

Sustainable Northwest, Portland: $50,000 to help nine small and emerging juniper mills in rural and frontier communities expand their operations and increase their output, in an effort to establish a self-sustaining juniper industry in Oregon. Sustainable Northwest is contributing $52,000 to the $102,000 project.

Northwest Cooperative Development Center, Olympia, WA: $40,000 to educate professional small business advisers about the benefits and mechanics of converting to worker-owned cooperatives. At least five businesses in the rural Oregon communities of La Grande, Ontario, Redmond, Coos Bay, and Klamath Falls will receive assistance. The organization is contributing $21,172 to the $61,172 project.

Port of The Dalles, The Dalles: $32,000 to explore how to best support rural food production facilities, building on the Port’s prior work identifying local industry priorities. The project will also create development models for the construction, financing, and operational costs for a Food Learning and Business Center. The Port is contributing $32,085 to the $64,085 project.

South Central Oregon Economic Development District, Klamath Falls: $27,500 to explore options for establishing a local food hub for the aggregation, storage, processing, distribution, and marketing of regionally produced agricultural products. The organization will contribute $27,500 to the $55,000 feasibility study.

Port of Garibaldi, Garibaldi: $15,466 to explore options for a seafood hub that would provide technical assistance to help entrepreneurs develop small businesses, provide business space, and offer resources to assist with continued business growth in the seafood industry. The Port is contributing $24,534 to the $40,000 project.