Blog for Rural America

The Center for Rural Affairs, a private, non-profit organization, is working to strengthen small businesses, family farms and ranches, and rural communities. Permission to reprint items from this web log is hereby granted, on the condition that clear credit is given to the original source of the material. If the blog provides information for a story, please let us know by sending an email to

Friday, October 14, 2005

Havre, MT Earns Economic Development Recognition

Havre Economic Development Corporation Earns Recognition

By PETER JOHNSON, Great Falls Tribune Staff Writer

The U.S. Economic Development Administration has named Havre-based Bear Paw Development Corporation one of the best rural economic development groups in the nation.

The EDA selected Bear Paw as one of the three finalists for its excellence in economic development award within the rural category. Winning top honors in that category was the development authority in Elma, Wash.

Nominees were evaluated on how effectively they use innovative, market-based strategies to improve rural economic conditions.

"The finalists in the EDA's national awards program represent the best and the brightest economic development methods and practices in use today," said EDA chief of staff Sandy Baruah.

Paul Tuss, Bear Paw Development's executive director for five years, called it an honor to be recognized as a top rural economic development group.

"It's a real testament to the professionalism of our staff, the commitment of our local government members and the great partners we have developed in both the public and private sectors," he said.

Bear Paw has been a federally recognized economic development district since 1968. Its work spans five northern Montana counties — Liberty, Hill, Blaine, Phillips and Chouteau — and two Indian reservations — Rocky Boy's and Fort Belknap.

The organization helps communities with their economic and community development needs, including small business counseling and financing, community planning, infrastructure development and valued-added agriculture opportunities.

Tuss said he highlighted two programs in the EDA application.

This year Bear Paw teamed with other rural agencies to form the Montana Agriculture Innovation Center and used grant money to hire a specialist to work with farmers and ranchers to add value to their raw products, he said.

Bear Paw also has developed an $8 million revolving loan fund to help businesses start up or expand. About 100 area businesses have loans through the program, he said.

U.S. Sen. Max Baucus, Gov. Brian Schweitzer and U.S. Rep. Denny Rehberg wrote letters supporting Bear Paw's application for the EDA award.

for information post a comment or question here or contact John Crabtree,

Center for Rural Affairs
Values. Worth. Action.


  • At 10:51 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Harvey North Dakota would have won that recognition had our Economic Director stayed. We miss you John :)

  • At 12:10 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Havre and Bear Paw development's recognition reflects two very good ideas that many rural communities should consider - the ag innovation center and the revolving loan fund. Focus ag center on real innovation and processing that brings a better return to farmers and rancher and focus revolving loan fund on small business and microenterprise and you have a real winner. Does anyone know the focus of the Bear Paw efforts?

  • At 10:12 PM, Blogger Center for Rural Affairs said…

    The Bear Paw Development Corporation offers microlending (up to $35,000 loans for business startups or expansions with 10 or fewer employees) in addition to their revolving loan fund (up to $150,000 for business startups or expansions). For more information on these services and on the Ag Innovation Center go to

  • At 12:15 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    the term "value added" is a double edged sword in rural economic development - too many tax dollars are spent on projects that really do not add much value to the commodities raised by farmers and ranchers. The big food companies should not get taxpayer money to do so-called "value added" projects.


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