Iowa State University has won a grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development Office to organize a cooperative business development center. Peter Thomas of the U-S-D-A was in Iowa Tuesday to announce the 300-thousand grant. He says the grant will go to help fund the analysis of tools, producer resource sharing information, management training — or what he calls soft costs involved in putting together a business plan. Thomas says completing all the paperwork to get a business going can be costly. He says conforming to rules, regulations and policies at the local level is expensive, and you need a plan to convince lenders to fund the business. Thomas says they define rural areas as cities with populations of 50-thousand or below. He says not everyone agrees with that definition.He says they recently were developing a new logo and trying to increase their outreach. They hired a firm to do a test market study in a town of 500, but the people in the town said they weren’t rural, that’s two miles outside town. While the program is targeted at co-ops, he says the loans aren’t always ag-related. He says particularly the business loans, don’t always go to ag businesses, he says they can go to machines shops, motels, or any business that has an economic impact and creates jobs. Thomas says Iowa State won the grant on a competitive basis with other organizations in the state.
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