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Wyoming Main Street offers best practices workshop

The Wyoming Rural Development Council/Wyoming Main Street office is offering their annual mobile best practices workshop in conjunction with the 2013 National Main Streets Conference. This event is a precursor to the national conference and provides those interested or already involved in downtown revitalization an opportunity to learn how Main Street™ communities around the country have made their downtowns what they are today.
This year’s workshop will take over 80 people to communities in Louisiana and Mississippi to see how the Main Street programs in these communities have applied the Main Street Four-Point Approach™. The group will be learning about the relationships built through the programs and also their “wins.” Specific workshop highlights include a downtown living, getting non-profits involved in major events, building a strong business mix in downtowns and how to market that mix, and utilization of Community Development Block Grants for a façade enhancement program.

For more information on the Main Street movement, visit www.mainstreet.org.


Rural “YES” Young Entrepreneur Summit

Iowa Rural Development Council along with the U.S. Small Business Administration, USDA Rural Development, Iowa State University and two dozen partners are co-hosting a Rural “YES” Young Entrepreneur Summit on Nov. 9. The Summit will be in the Scheman Building at the Iowa State Center, Ames from 4:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

The event is free to participating or prospective entrepreneurs. Small Business Administration Deputy Administrator Marie Johns and USDA Deputy Under Secretary for Rural Development Doug O’Brien will share their perspectives and success stories from around the country.  Governor Terry Branstad and Lt. Governor Kim Reynolds will share their perspectives on state initiatives to enhance opportunities for successful rural Entrepreneurs in Iowa. A panel of young rural entrepreneurs moderated by Iowa small business person of the year for 2010, Rob Hach of Anemometry Specialists includes:

Young and emerging entrepreneurs at Rural YES will:

  • Hear success stories from other rural entrepreneurs,
  • Listen to and share ideas for improving opportunities for rural entrepreneur success,
  • Connect with other rural entrepreneurs and support networks.
  • Shape ideas for a Rural YES Findings Report and future rural entrepreneur networking communications.

A free trade show/networking reception featuring local Iowa foods follows the program.

To participate, please register for Rural YES at the following website:

Rural YES recognizes outstanding young entrepreneurs and shares their success stories from across rural America to inspire others to participate in creating a rural entrepreneurial cultural. Organizers believe this provides greater opportunity for successful enterprise development and support in the future.

This event will also be live streamed on the White House website at www.whitehouse.gov

For More Information, Contact:

  • Dr. Mark Edelman, CVC-ISU                Phone: 515-294-6144            medelman@iastate.edu
  • Joe Folsom, District Director SBA       Phone: 515-284-4026           joseph.folsom@sba.gov
  • Bill Menner, State Director, USDA RD                                                 bill.menner@ia.usda.gov
  • Heather Honkomp, USDA RD              Phone: 515-284-4663           heather.honkomp@ia.usda.gov



Illinois Rural Partners was a gold level sponsor of the recent Economic Development Downstate Summit “Creating a Common Voice” which attracted more than 200 economic developers, legislators and community leaders.  The conference, held in Effingham, was a day of education, exploration, and brainstorming and focused on creating a common voice on economic development issues.

Several Rural Partners board members were presenters on topics such as the results of the Rural Life Poll partially funded by Rural Partners, current economic trends, Tax Increment Financing districts, Enterprise Zones and development of a common business development brand for downstate Illinois to build on the many positive activities going on in rural communities all over the state.  The positive discussion at the conference gives encouragement that the downstate bipartisan legislative caucus will be revitalized.

Conference planners are now studying the comments from the networking sessions and conference evaluation, developing communication pieces to be sent to the legislators and establishing task forces to work on economic development issues.

Rural Partners is a member driven forum that links individuals, businesses, organizations and communities with private and public resources to maximize the potential of rural Illinois.  Click here for more information. 


Wisconsin Small Town Forums

The University of Wisconsin - Extension, Wisconsin Rural Partners, Wisconsin Downtown Action Council and Wisconsin Main Street are excited to present two regional Small Town Forums on July 13 in Shullsburg and July 14 in Tigerton.

Everyone is invited, but this workshop was developed to create a dialog among small town leaders with populations of 1,500 or less. The format of the workshop is structured to allow participants to learn from each other through case studies, roundtables and discussion groups.

The cost of the workshop is $10 and registrations are due by July 7, 2010. A copy of the brochure that includes agendas for each site and how to register can be found at http://commerce.wi.gov/cd/docs/cd-bdd-forum.pdf

For more information about the Small Town Forums, please contact Catherine Dunlap with Wisconsin Main Street at catherine.dunlap@wisconsin.gov or at 608-267-3855


Maine Rural Partners

The Community-Based Renewable Energy Act

Signed into law on June 9, 2009, the Community‐Based Renewable Energy Act promotes the
development of locally‐owned renewable energy.  The Act connects three critical policy
objectives—environmental security, economic development and energy independence.

This new law defines community renewable energy to be renewable energy produced by an enterprise that is primarily owned by local entities in the state of Maine.  It establishes a preference for the state to buy this energy whenever it is economically feasible to do so, and creates a standard “green power” option in addition to the standard offer—thereby providing consumers with that same purchasing opportunity.  The Act also creates a pilot program to directly incentivize community renewable energy generation.

Why is Community Renewable Energy So Important?

According to the Office of Energy Independence and Security, Maine sends nearly $6.8 billion to out-of-state energy providers every year.  That means nearly $6000 per person leaves Maine’s economy every year to keep our lights on and our cars rolling.

Yet Maine is blessed with vast natural renewable energy resources.  Regardless of who owns the project, development of these resources can help us keep more of that money in our local economy, helping to create jobs and build wealth in our communities instead of exporting that wealth elsewhere.

These benefits are far greater still when our energy generation facilities are owned by local people.  Your neighbors have a vested interest in the health and well-being of their community, because they too have to live with the facilities they build and the potential complaints of their neighbors.

Equally important is the economic gain that comes from local ownership.  Studies investigating this issue with wind power development have demonstrated that local ownership doubles or even triples the host community’s economic gains from any given project.

Community renewable energy cannot realistically supply all Maine’s energy needs, but that is no reason not to favor local ownership of a project whenever the will and resources are available within our state.  This legislation is our state’s way of expressing that preference while stimulating our critically needed transition to secure, planet‐friendly energy sources.

Direct Incentives Pilot Program

The Act also creates a pilot program to provide a choice of direct incentives to the developers of community renewable energy projects, including individuals with small projects that can sell directly into their grid to supply their neighbors with clean, home‐grown energy.  To take advantage of these incentives, developers of larger projects must show local support for their project if it exceeds 1 MW of generating capacity by obtaining a resolution of support from the relevant municipal government or native tribe.  This requirement will ensure that a community-based facility is indeed welcomed in the local community. 

In return, participating developers may choose to establish a 20-year long-term purchasing contract to provide power to the standard offer pool, providing the developers with a stable rate of return on their investment.  Alternatively, developers can claim a 50% bonus on their renewable energy certificates when applied to Maine’s portfolio standard requirement.

During the pilot, a number of restrictions will protect ratepayers.  Most importantly, the program is initially limited to 50 MW of generating capacity, and there will be additional limits for each standard offer service territory.  There is also a per-project cap of 10 MW. 
Long-term contracts with a capacity above 1 MW will be competitively bid, and no contract can pay more than a 10¢ per kWh annual average.  That price is less than the highest price Maine consumers have paid recently.

Thanks to hard work and ultimately unanimous support from the Utilities and Energy Committee, the Community-Based Renewable Energy Act was enacted and signed into law.  Key contributors included members of the Mid‐Coast Green Collaborative, Community Energy Partners, Maine Rural Partners, Ed Holt & Associates, the Natural Resources Council of Maine, the Office of Public Advocate, the Public Utilities Commission, Office of Energy
Independence & Security, Central Maine Power Company, legislative analyst Lucia Nixon and
the following legislators:  Rep Bruce MacDonald, Rep Herb Adams, Rep Ken Fletcher, Rep
David van Wie, Rep Stacey Fitts, Rep Michael Thibodeau and Senator Barry Hobbins.

Crafters of the legislation gratefully acknowledge helpful national advice provided by
Windustry, Climate Solutions, the Institute for Local Self‐Reliance, the Minnesota Dept. of
Commerce and American Corn Growers Federation, as well as the positive attitude of the
Maine Public Utilities Commission, which will carry the load in implementing this legislation.


Council on the Future of Vermont

The Council on the Future of Vermont is a two year project of the Vermont Council on Rural Development. From 2007 to 2009, the Council learned from Vermonters about their hopes, aspirations and visions for the future of the state.