By Martin J. Kidston
Hoping to bring economic growth to rural Montana, MSU-Northern is looking for grant money to establish a cooperative development center, Sen. Greg Jergeson, D-Chinook, told the Central Montana Pachyderms at a Friday luncheon.
Seeking $250,000 in grants from the Rural Cooperative Development Center, Northern will embark on a three-year project to establish the Montana Cooperative Development Center, an idea aimed at improving the rural economy in the state.
Director of Northerns Grants and Sponsored Research Department, Jergeson said the proposed development center will serve as a state-wide resource for community-based development. The mission: To meet the economic needs of rural Montana by promoting cooperative action.
If established, Jergeson said, the center will develop, promote and coordinate educational programs, technical assistance and research on the cooperative form of business.
Jergeson said the total cost of the project, estimated at $798,000, will receive $523,000 of non-federal funding. $250,000 in grants is being sought from the RCDC, and $25,000 from the U.S. Economic Development Administration.
The program will focus on how our small communities can benefit from this, Jergeson said, explaining that the school is competing against other groups for the funding. Its a competitive grant program. If we dont get it this year, we will proceed with our co-op development center and keep reapplying for the grant.
Established within MSU-Northerns Department of Business, Jergeson said, the center will get assistance from faculty within various departments, such as Industrial and Engineering, Technology, Agriculture and Mechanical, and Science and Mathematics.
The proposed center will help revitalize Montanas economy, which has been hampered by the stagnation of the states rural areas, the programs mission statement reads. By helping producers and others organize cooperatives, and by providing technical assistance, the Center will increase the likelihood that these ventures can succeed.