The Trump administration recently announced the U.S. Department of Agriculture is investing $966,540 in three projects in the state, including the county Office of Economic Development’s Kaua‘i Rise Initiative. The initiative will provide business mentoring, training and technical assistance, project planning, market research and feasibility studies to support island businesses, and will get $55,000. The Kohala Center will receive most of the federal funds, $832,540, to provide technical assistance to a total of 176 socially-disadvantaged producers who are members of five rural cooperatives, six rural groups operating across the state and a group of 50 socially-disadvantaged businesses operating in rural areas statewide. The funds will help provide technical assistance in the areas of business planning and capitalization, co-op leadership in project management, accounting and financial literacy, community food-system development, community soil-fertility practices, grant-application coaching, website development, community engagement, agroecology and Pacific island planting in commercial systems, co-op membership roles and responsibilities, and agricultural pest control. Additionally, the state will receive $79,000 for a rural development investment to provide technical assistance to grantee’s Neighbor Island Innovation Initiative program. The program provides business mentoring to startup and small companies to achieve their next level of growth. The USDA money is through the department’s Rural Business Development Grants program. “Under the leadership of President Trump and Agriculture Secretary Perdue, USDA is committed to being a strong partner to rural businesses, because we know that when rural America thrives, all of America thrives,” said Bette Brand, USDA deputy under secretary. “Sometimes the biggest challenge for our applicants is getting through the application process,” said Brenda Iokepa-Moses, USDA Hawai‘i and Western Pacific state director. ”These technical-assistance grants are vital in helping our rural-community applicants package their application and get to the finish line,” said Iokepa-Moses. The USDA business programs provide financial backing and technical assistance to stimulate business creation and growth. The programs work through partnerships with public and private community-based organizations and financial institutions to provide financial assistance, business development and technical assistance to rural businesses. These programs also help to provide capital, equipment, space, job training and entrepreneurial skills that can help to start and/or grow a business. Business programs also support the creation and preservation of quality jobs in rural areas. The USDA Rural Development program provides loans and grants to help expand economic opportunities and create jobs in rural areas. This assistance supports infrastructure improvements, business development, housing, community facilities such as schools, public safety and health care, and high-speed internet access in rural areas. For more information, visit rd.usda.gov.