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Nonprofit helps develop community, businesses

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RONAN – Executive Director Gypsy Ray posted one of Lake County Community Development Corporation’s newest projects on their website to help inform people of all the things going on with the nonprofit business development center.

“We are putting out a monthly newsletter,” she said.

Ray begins the January issue by saying “now that we have snow” it’s time to reflect on the 2017 fire season. And in the spirit of the newsletter, Ray thanks Lake County resident Dale Iseman for his work in helping to suppress fires in the Sapphire Complex and Meyers Complex near Phillipsburg. 

She said Iseman has utilized the LCCDC since 2012 to develop technical support and loan funding for his business. He owns High Sierra Enterprises, Inc. 

“Dale and his team members spent nearly 60 days providing Type-1 water tender supply for fire trucks and porta-tanks in addition to direct attack,” she noted. 

Iseman has worked with LCCDC to develop the requirements needed to become a federal contractor by attending various workshops and other programs. He utilized a small grant to purchase software for bookkeeping services among other things.

LCCDC receives low interest loans through the United States Department of Agriculture to be utilized by people for business development. Ray explained that the nonprofit has been working in the county with a central location in Ronan since 1995 with direction from a board of directors.

In 2017, LCCDC served 1,965 clients, created or retained 133 jobs, and supported the processing of 60,000 pounds of locally grown food. Business lending dollars for last year were at $930,360 for 19 new businesses and business expansions, leveraging an additional $2.3 million in federal, state, and private dollars. 

The corporation works as one main resource for Lake, Mineral and Sanders Counties to create community and business development. The corporation branches out with four main programs. Ray said it’s a bit difficult to summarize what the corporation does because it does so many things that produce results for the community and businesses.

“Basically, we do business development,” she said. “We are an untapped resource for anyone that needs help or technical assistance with their business or community project.” 

The Mission Mountain Food Enterprise Center is the most commonly known of the four branches of the corporation due to its food processing facility, located on Main Street, where everything from squash to sauce is brought in by business owners for processing. Ray said if anyone has heard of the spice company called Silk Road then they’ve seen one of the products developed at the facility. The Western Montana Growers Co-Op also utilizes the center to package items, as do many others. 

The Community Development Center assists with community projects by helping with grant writing, planning, and project management. They are currently helping the Ronan High School develop a project to restore the wooden Ronan arch accenting Main Street. The wood needs to be replaced. LCCDC is helping the students plan the project and fundraise. They are currently taking donations.

The Business Development Center provides technical assistance and capital resources to entrepreneurs and small businesses including business classes and information on loans and grants. 

The Cooperative Development Center helps existing and new cooperative enterprises as they develop or expand. They specialize in food development through partnerships in local food aggregation and distribution.   

Ray said anyone is welcome to reach out to the LCCDC for assistance. People can call the corporation at 406-676-5901 to find out how their business or community project can benefit from their many resources. The newsletter can be found on the LCCDC website under news and events.

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