Friday, July 30, 2010

Just a reminder the Indiana State Fair is about to start!!!!

After waiting 348 days since the last one, I'm happy to announce that the Great Indiana State Fair starts this Friday, August 6th and runs through Sunday, August 22nd.  This years theme is the "year of the pigs" which is very appropriate as Indiana ranks 5th in the nation for pork production and contributes $3 billion to Indiana's economy annually. 

While you are at the fair be sure to stop by the hog barn and check out the worlds largest boar as well as the champion litter.  (That's a female hog and her piglets, they are super cute and you won't want to miss it!)  You'll also want to eat a Garbage Burger, which is the signature food item for this years fair and consists of a porkbuger with pulled pork BBQ on top.  I think that sounds delish and can't wait to try it.  So come on out and see Indiana's Agriculture on show case!!!   

County Fairs and Community Foundations

It’s summertime in Indiana and that means…. county fair time!!! As a ten year 4-H member myself, I loved showing livestock, baking pies to exhibit, eating elephant ears and seeing all the other sights and sounds the county fair had to offer. Being so involved in 4-H I also knew the amount of time and resources that went in to the upkeep of a fairgrounds; buildings, arenas, barns, pens, etc. And from time to time today I get questions from citizens wanting to know about grants for their fair facilities. What I always suggest to them is to check with their local community foundation. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again; foundations are great resources for smaller projects with a quick turn-around time. Most community foundations want to utilize their funds on projects that directly benefit their community. A fairgrounds project would be an ideal applicant because of how many people attend the fair or utilize the fairgrounds throughout the rest of the year.

I have listed two websites here with contact information for the community foundations in the state of Indiana for your reference. Feel free to check out the ones in your area and find out more about their application process and what types of projects/activities they offer funding for.  

Friday, July 23, 2010

Starting a Small Business?

I often get asked if there are grants available to start a small business?  Yes and No is my answer.  Sometimes there are some grants available to help business, but you may have to be located in a certain area, come from a certain background, or any number of other criteria that the grantor's have developed.  Those grants are usually few and far between and are purposefully set up to reach a narrowly identified group. 

However, there are always low interest loans available through the US Small Business Administration.  This is a federal agency and the programs they offer are very sound and secure.  Their website offers lots of information not only on loans but also on other programs to assist business owners.  I encourage you to check out their website for additional information.

I always warn constituents to use caution in appling for loans or grants that are not federally funded.  In some cases there are scams out there.  It's best to research who the funder is and find out what other projects they have actually funded.  Sometimes the old cliche' "If it sounds too good to be true....."  is a good cautionary measure to use. to gauge wether or not to apply.    

Friday, July 16, 2010

The USDA, through the Office of Advocacy and Outreach, is making available
4.7 million dollars as a second round of funding formerly referred to as the 2501 Program, in the Socially Disadvantaged Farmers and Ranchers (OASDFR) Competitive Grant Program.

This grant provides funds to organizations to conduct outreach and technical assistance to encourage and assist socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers to own and operate farms and ranches and to participate in agricultural programs. The OASDFR will support a wide range of outreach and assistance activities in farm management, financial management, marketing, application and bidding procedures, and other areas. The primary purpose of the OASDFR is to deliver outreach and technical assistance, to assure opportunities for socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers to successfully acquire, own, operate, and retain farms and ranches; and assure equitable participation in the full range of USDA programs.

The Objective of this funding is to attract local, community-based organizations and other
eligible entities who are capable of accomplishing a project that addresses all four of the
following components:
• Collect and analyze information on the number of actual and potential socially disadvantaged farmers within a defined geographic area:
• Outreach with the specific purpose of identification of root causes of failure to achieve equitable participation in USDA agricultural programs by Socially Disadvantaged Farmers and Ranchers, as well as development of recommended solutions
• Development and deployment of improved approaches to outreach and technical assistance
• Collection and analysis of information on success of those approaches.

More information regarding this grant can be found at Deadline for submitting applications is August 9, 2010

Friday, July 2, 2010

Tips on Grants: Know Your Funder

When you are applying for any grant; whether it is a government grant or a foundation grant, you should know your funder. (Especially with foundation grants.) Do your homework and research, either through news releases or websites, and see what the organizations mission statement is. What are their goals? What is their strategic plan? Who sits on their board and what is their background? What type of projects have they funded in the past?

This information is important for a couple of reasons. Firstly, it will help you to gauge how your project compares to winning proposals from the past. Is the size of your project and scope of your project similar to previous grant recipients? Secondly, in some cases it may help if you mentioned in your proposal how your project compares and/or compliments previous projects they have funded. This shows the grant reviewers that you are interested in what the organization does and ways your project can expand their outreach. Lastly, if you do find out that the awarding organization is not a good fit or has a different focus than yours, it can save you the time of filling out the application.

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