By Tim Leeds/Havre Daily Newsemail@example.com
A Fort Belknap woman is returning to the Hi-Line to head an organization dedicated to reducing poverty in north-central Montana.
"I'm very excited. There's lots of reasons to go back besides the challenges of the job," said Andrea Main, who will serve as executive director of the Northcentral Montana Community Ventures Coalition.
Her parents, Walter and Nellie Main, plus her sons, Kyle and Jess, and grandsons, 17-month-old Isaiah and 7-month-old Kyleigh, all live in Hays.
Main, a native of Hays and an enrolled member of the Gros Ventre Tribe at the Fort Belknap Indian Reservation, starts her new job Monday. She was selected from more than 40 applicants.
Main will travel to Minneapolis on Wednesday to meet with the Northwest Area Foundation, which decided last year after a competitive process to give the Montana organization $12 million in seed money to combat poverty. The foundation was created by descendants of railroad magnate James J. Hill.
"I have to hit the ground running, but it's all so exciting. I just can't wait to get going," Main said.
Northcentral Montana Community Ventures plans to use the $12 million as seed money to apply for additional funding. The organization's proposal identified more than $75 million worth of projects in an 11-county area and many more are expected to be proposed.
Havre was chosen as headquarters for the effort.
Bear Paw Development Corp. executive director Paul Tuss, a member of the Northcentral Montana Community Ventures steering committee, said he expects things will start happening quickly now that a director is on board.
"People are going to start seeing projects hit the ground," he said.
Tuss said Main's familiarity with the region and professional experience will enable her to learn the ropes quickly.
Main has extensive experience working with grants and program administration.
After receiving a bachelor's degree in business from Northern Montana College, now Montana State University-Northern, she worked at Fort Belknap Community College from 1984 to 1996. While there, she developed programs and projects with funding that included U.S. Department of Education grants, she said.
She worked as executive director of the Montana Travel Information Network from 1996 to 1999, which coordinated and helped projects at business incubation centers on Montana's seven Indian reservations.
For the last five years, Main has been a program director for the Billings branch of Rural Development and Finance Corp., an organization based in San Antonio, Texas. Her job has been to help Indian reservations in Montana, Wyoming and South Dakota build loan funds, including funds to help people start small businesses.
"I guess I've been working with small businesses for the last eight years or so, and community development," Main said.
Once the main staff is hired - Leah Noel of Havre has been hired as administrative assistant - and the office is set up, she will start accepting proposals for projects in the region.