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Agricultural News

Rural Economic Development Program Seeking Applications

Thu, 02 Apr 2015 12:35:02 CDT

Rural Economic Development Program Seeking Applications Communities interested in boosting their regional economic development prospects should apply now for the Stronger Economies Together program.

A national initiative designed to potentially have a big impact on the state, SET helps rural communities partner together to enhance regional economic development opportunities. The program is offered through the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development and Regional Rural Development Centers.

"SET helps communities think beyond their city and county borders to build important relationships and identify key resources that can successfully drive regional projects," said Dave Shideler, Oklahoma State University Cooperative Extension community development specialist.

This is the third time Oklahoma has participated in the SET program. Currently, 18 counties in the state are actively involved in the initiative.

The 7-month program includes six coaching sessions covering an overview of the region, team building exercises and a study of the region's economic climate and potential resources.

Participating regions also will create a strategic plan that can be put into action immediately, as well as have access to 40 hours of technical assistance from the SET coaching team, including professionals from state and federal agencies, OSU, Extension and other public and private organizations.

"Community leaders understand no project is successful without a plan. SET uses the expertise of the USDA and Extension to help communities to gather the necessary knowledge, skills and resources to build a solid plan and put it into action," said Kathleen James, Oklahoma community and economic development coordinator for USDA Rural Development.

To be eligible for the program, regions must be made up of three or more rural counties that are adjacent to one another. Additional criteria may be found in the application materials, which are available for download on the Oklahoma Extension Development Resources blog by clicking here (see the post dated April 1, 2015).

As an added benefit to participating in SET, communities that complete the program tend to be in a good position to earn grants and other types of support for needs they have identified.

"Part of the goal of the program is to create meaningful relationships across communities, counties and organizations that have the potential to help regions flourish economically," Shideler said. "Ultimately, that kind of growth is not just good for the region, it's good for all of Oklahoma."

Completed SET applications must be emailed to Shideler at dave.shideler@okstate.edu by May 7. For more information or questions, contact Shideler at 405-744-6170 or James at kathleen.james@okstate.edu or 405-742-1000.



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