Federal community development funding, as measured as a share of GDP, has declined by 75 percent over the least 40 years. Federal policy has increasing relied on private-sector resources to fill the gap. Through the NMTC and CDFI programs, community development organizations are filling the yawning credit gap encountered in many communities, creating jobs improving housing and community facilities and creating economic opportunity. This is especially true in rural America where opportunity to access the capital necessary to build businesses and community services is limited.
On April 11, 2017, Dakotas America hosted the Upper Great Plains Rural Finance Gathering in Harrisburg, South Dakota. In all, there were over 30 attendees representing more than 20 economic development groups from across the region, as well as other areas around the country. The stated purpose of the gathering was for participants to learn from one another, share high-impact stories, and craft a univocal call for strengthening the rural fabric of our nation.
The sessions included messaging, storytelling and small group discussions on economic and social issues facing rural America. Ben Ready, SE District Director for Senator John Thune, also participated and spoke on the Status of Rural America during the lunch portion of the gathering.
The gathering focused on the federal economic and community development programs that these organizations are employing in low-income, hard-hit rural communities. Participants listed federal programs and funding sources that are effective and need to be protected by Congress. These included CDFI Fund programs, including the NMTC; USDA Rural Development programs, such as the Rural Microentrepreneur Assistance Program, Rural Energy for America Program, Rural Economic Development Loan and Grant, and Community Facilities Relending; and the HUD Community Development Block Grant program.
Check out more great photos from the Rural Finance Gathering on our Facebook page!