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Grant funding supports local programs

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News from Lake County Community Development Corporation

RONAN — Lake County Community Development Corporation 

announced Nov. 19 that they received USDA funding that will benefit Mission Mountain Food Enterprise, as well as rural business and cooperative development programs.

Of the $962,807 received in USDA funding, $750,000 was awarded through the Intermediary Relending Program, funds designated to assist new or small businesses across Lake, Mineral and Sanders Counties that may not otherwise qualify for commercial financing, according to Gypsy Ray, incoming executive director for Lake County Community Development Corporation. LCCDC works in partnership with community banks across the tri-county region to assist where a business may not be able to get full commercial financing as well. The IRP lending program provides loans up to $150,000 to purchase equipment, real estate or other fixed assets. 

Additionally, the USDA Rural Business Enterprise Grant Program recently awarded LCCDC a $21,777 grant, which LCCDC will match from business development funds. The grant provides for business-oriented workshops, which will be presented in Superior, Thompson Falls, and Ronan throughout the next several months. These workshops are designed to provide introductory to advanced business skills with classes such as Microsoft Word, Excel, Publisher and PowerPoint; Marketing, Social Media, Business Plans, QuickBooks, Cash Flows, Concept to Consumer for food businesses, and Profit Mastery.

LCCDC is also the recipient of the USDA Rural Cooperative Development Grant in the amount of $191,030. LCCDC has been a rural cooperative development center for 15 years and in that time has developed a nationally recognized program for cooperative food system development, rural enterprise assistance, and educational program offerings. 

The cooperative development program is an integral piece of the work LCCDC undertakes in developing the rural western Montana economy,” Ray said. 

Throughout the past five years, the Cooperative Development Program at LCCDC has assisted in the formation of 26 cooperatives and mutually owned businesses. 

“We are committed to continuing to offer the services that lead to economic development,” she said. 

LCCDC also previously received a two-year USDA Local Food Promotion Grant in the amount of $99,986. The grant supports Mission Mountain Food Enterprise Center to work with area hospitals to increase patient and staff consumption of regionally produced fruits and vegetables. The grant will specifically work with hospitals to develop value-added products for season extension. By adding value to regional produce, hospitals will be able to serve local food all year long, which will expand institutional market opportunities for area farmers and ranchers, according to Ray. The grant will contribute significantly in growing MMFEC’s farm-to-institution capacity and will aid in growing markets for producers. 

LCCDC received a three-year USDA Specialty Crop Grant that will support MMFEC to provide technical resources to specialty crop producers in Montana. The project will target food hubs of specialty crop producers, specifically vegetable and fruit producers, and will provide training and technical assistance in the area of developing and implementing Good Agricultural Practices Quality Management System plans that will successfully pass USDA Group GAP QMS audits. The project will deliver a series of Regional Inspector Verification trainings to develop a pool of second (internal) party auditors for specialty crop producers to access to successfully meet the parameters of a USDA audit. Through the Food and Agriculture Development Center Network, the project will partner on a series of trainings to insure specialty crop producers and processors have the necessary information and skills to develop and implement their Group GAP QMS.

Lake County Community Development Corporation cultivates economic growth in Western Montana by offering unique resources to develop communities, businesses and food and agriculture enterprises. LCCDC is a 501c3 Corporation governed by a volunteer Board of Directors representative of the communities, local governments, business sectors and citizens from throughout Lake County. As a state-certified regional development corporation serving, Lake, Mineral and Sanders Counties, and the Flathead Indian Reservation, LCCDC is further guided by an Advisory Board made up of local development corporations, and other community groups involved in local and economic development issues throughout the region.

For additional information on these grant or lending programs and application information please contact the LCCDC offices at 406-676-5901, or visit the website at



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