Havre, MT Earns Economic Development 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, email@example.com
Center for Rural Affairs
Values. Worth. Action.